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May 2021 News From Fairway Green

News and lawn care tips from Fairway Green in Raleigh.

Heat/Dry Stress On Turfgrass

We are starting to see severe cases of heat/dry stress on Fescue and some warm season turf. Irrigating the lawn with about 1.5” of irrigation will help fescue recover from this condition.

Heat/dry stress is often misdiagnosed as a fungus or other issue. Signs of dry/heat stress include:

  • Darker color to the lawn
  • Visible footprints
  • Leaf blades that are folded and thin looking

The grass blade appears to be almost straw like on all types of turf, including Bermuda and Zoysia. If the lawn looks ok in the morning then looks poor in late afternoon, it is probably heat/dry stress.

All turf types require roughly 1.5” of moisture a week for proper health. However, Fescue requires moisture sooner than warm season turf during dry conditions.

Tall Fescue will usually go into a semi-dormant state and shut down. Most of the turf will bounce back with cooler temperatures and rain fall. It is important for the fescue to be healthy from proper fertility and a 3.5” to 4.0 mowing height before, during and after the semi-dormant state.

Many people are under the impression that warm season turf lawns like Bermuda and Zoysia cannot experience heat/dry related injury/stress during summer. However, warm season turf grasses are just more heat/dry tolerant than cool season turf. They generally recover from these stresses better than a cool season turf. Warm season and cool season turf stress is exacerbated when the turf is growing in poor conditions (i.e. shade, compact soil, etc.) and/or struggling to recover from a harsh Transitional Zone winter. Like Tall Fescue, most of the turf will bounce back if the turf was in good health.

Warm season turf is heat/dry tolerant but not exempt from experiencing the same conditions as cool season turf like Fescue during hot dry weather. Tolerance means it can tolerate those type of conditions longer and have the ability to generally recover faster.

Winter Injury and Damage on Warm Season Turf

North Carolina is now seeing confirmed cases of winter injury/damage on all warm season turf types. As warm season turf starts to actively grow we can see the extent of injury/damage on Bermuda, Zoysia, Centipede and St. Augustine. However, Centipede and Zoysia have received the most injury/damage this past dormant period.

Centipede is the most cold intolerant of all warm season turf and tends to green up sooner than other warm season turf.

Injury to Zoysia (and other warm season turf) was exacerbated by our waterlogged soil this winter and spring. Zoysia, in particular, does not perform well in saturated soils especially while dormant.

All warm season turf will start actively growing through May and June.

Corrective action from any damage will depend on the extent of your damage. Bermuda and Zoysia will generally fill back in during the growing season on the proper fertility program if damage is not severe. Bermuda and Zoysia spread much faster than Centipede. Sod may be the best approach on Centipede (or other turf types) if damage is extensive. Centipede spreads slowly and cannot be pushed with fertility to get it to spread faster.

Core aeration can also aid in recovery.

Please keep in mind, it is difficult to know the extent of injury until June. All warm season turf grasses break dormancy at different times in the spring and usually are not completely out until June. This can be the case in the same yard. You can even see warm season turf break dormancy sooner on the other side of the street in a neighborhood depending on the amount of sunlight it receives. This is compounded when you have cool spring temperatures farther into May like we have seen this year. Fertilizer will not help the turf green up unless it is ready to start actively growing. This is all based on air and ground temperatures and the amount of daylight.

Bermuda, Zoysia, and Centipede Turf Core Aeration

Core aeration is a key management practice to help improve the overall quality of your turf and soil environment. Core aeration removes a small plug of thatch and soil and should be completed annually on Warm Season Turf (Bermuda, Zoysia and Centipede).

Core aeration removes a small plug of thatch and soil. This service should be completed between May and early August.

Core aeration will:

  • Improve natural soil aeration. Especially beneficial for clay soil
  • Improve water and nutrient uptake
  • Improve root and turf health
  • Improve turf density and help aid turf recovery from winter injury and disease

Brown Patch Fungus Has Started

Brown Patch Fungus on Fescue typically starts in May. However, we have seen a few cases of Brown Patch, Dollar Spot, Rust and Helminthosporium diseases in late April.

Brown Patch Fungus activates within a distinct set of climatic parameters. Brown Patch will activate when the temperatures are above 75 degrees with high atmospheric moisture. This moisture can be in the form of rainfall, irrigation or humidity. Brown Patch fungus can be devastating to the lawn.

Signs of Brown Patch will be an off color similar to drought stress, lesions on the leaf blade, browning of the turf in circles or areas. The easiest way to identify Brown Patch is to stand away from the lawn and look for a shadowy appearance on the lawn. Once you identify the area of concern, look for tan or brown lesions on the leaf blade. If you see these lesions, more than likely, you have Brown Patch. Drought stress can be mistaken for Brown Patch, but drought stress will make the leaves fold at the center giving the leaf blade a straw appearance.

Applying fungicides preventively offers better control and less turf damage vs. curative fungicide. We typically see Brown Patch starting in Fescue in late April through September.

April & May Starts The Spring Grub Season

White grubs are the larvae of Scarab beetles. There are several beetles that produce the grubs we see while digging in our lawns and natural areas. Grub species in North Carolina include Southern and Northern Chafer, Japanese, Asiatic, Green June and the May beetles. Grubs are identified by their cream off white colored body and off brown color hind part and head. Grubs have six legs and are from ¼ to 1½ inches. They are often seen in their C-shaped position in the soil.

White grubs create damage in turf by eating the root system of the host plant. Turf damage is usually observed in late spring through fall with an off color wilting appearance. Many times it is misdiagnosed as disease, heat or dry stress. The lawn may have a spongy almost loose feel to the soil under the turf. In severe cases, the turf may roll up when tugged on from the lack of roots holding it to the soil. Activity from birds, raccoons, skunks and moles could indicate a grub infestation. To determine the extent of grub activity and the need for control, you will need to use a spade to remove the upper 3 inches of soil in a 12” x 12” area. Cut back the turf sample to count the number of grubs and inspect root damage. If nine or more grubs are observed, take immediate action utilizing proper products. All turf types are susceptible to grub feeding and damage.

Image from NCSU TurfFiles.

Fairway Green Mosquito Control Program

Prevention is the key to maintaining a safe and comfortable lawn this summer.

Image provided by RE/MAX Infinity.

Steps to Prevention:

Empty standing water in areas that collect and promote mosquito growth and reproduction

Some areas to consider:

  • Pet dishes
  • Bird baths
  • Storm drains
  • Children’s toys
  • Untended pools and hot tubs
  • Excessive watering or leaking hose/irrigation systems

We all know Mosquitos transmit diseases like West Nile Virus, Encephalitis, Chikungunya, and Zika.

Fairway Green’s Season Long Mosquito Control Program can help control Mosquitos giving you and your family peace of mind. Each treatment will help control mosquito activity for approximately 2-3 weeks.

Proper Mowing Height Reminder

Mowing season is underway (for cool season turf). Proper mowing height will help control weeds in the lawn.

Research has proven that maintaining a mowing height of 3½ – 4” on fescue drastically reduces the amount of crabgrass in the lawn. Mowing at this height will also help promote healthy turf and hold back broadleaf weeds.

Many warm season turf lawns struggle to strive due to improper mowing height. Mowing your type of warm season turf will drastically improve the overall quality and appearance of the lawn. Bermuda in a home lawn requires mowing every few days at 0.75” to 1.5”. Mowing at this height encourages denser turf and spreading. The lawn will look thin and grow upward if mowed above this height. In addition, it lowers the quality of the grass increasing the possibility of damage. Zoysia requires a mowing height between 1.5” and 2.5” based on your particular variety. A safe bet would be around 2”.

Centipede needs to be cut low around 1” to 1.75” to perform well. St Augustine requires a mowing height of 1.75” and 2.25”