Your Lawn & Landscape Care During Dry Conditions Having a nice lawn in North Carolina has always been an ongoing process. We are all becoming accustomed to some type of water restrictions. Many metropolitan areas in the southeastern United States have year-round water restrictions. As the population continues to grow in this area, we will… Read more »
Having a nice lawn in North Carolina has always been an ongoing process. We are all becoming accustomed to some type of water restrictions. Many metropolitan areas in the southeastern United States have year-round water restrictions. As the population continues to grow in this area, we will be seeing year-round water restrictions as well. This is a good thing. Water restrictions will help preserve a precious natural resource.
Many people are wondering what they need to do to their lawn and landscape during dry conditions like we are experiencing. Continue doing what you have been doing and rely on natural rainfall for irrigation. As we have seen in past years, turf grass is pretty dry and heat tolerant and will generally come back when normal rainfall returns. During dry conditions or underwater restrictions, it is more important than ever to keep the proper nutrients on the lawn for when rainfall occurs. The turf in your lawn that has survived past years, is the turf you want to do everything you can to maintain. The turf you have now is what you will be building on when dry conditions break. Pest management is very important to monitor as well. Diseases, insects and weed invasions will destroy the good turf you are trying to maintain. Having the proper products, seed, etc. on the ground waiting for the next rain is the best approach to the current dry conditions.
Lawn care in the Transitional Zone has never been an easy or quick fix even with normal rainfall and no water restrictions. It has always been an ongoing, never-ending battle and nothing has changed. Year-round water restrictions are in our future. We have had three straight years of above-normal rainfall and should expect cycles like this.
Continuing to maintain your lawn and landscape will protect your investment and help improve the environment. Healthy turf and shrubs filter the air and groundwater from pollutants while producing rich oxygen. Being told not to water or not being able to water doesn’t mean you stop taking care of the lawn and your personal investment.
Fall is the time to seed your fescue lawn in the Transitional Zone, not the spring. Seeding Tall fescue in the fall allows the seedlings and young plants time to develop before the warmer air and ground temperatures start in May. Fairway Green will begin fall seeding around the last week of August and complete seeding around the last week of October.
We offer either slit-seeding or aeration seeding based on the condition of your lawn. Our seed is handpicked for high performing varieties that are Brown Patch resistant as well as heat and drought tolerant. This special mixture is made for use in our transitional zone. Fairway Green’s seed mixture, “Southern Perfection”, has 0% weed and 0% other crop contamination. Southern Perfection is now WaterStar® qualified through the Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance (TWCA).
If you are not willing to or unable to water, be patient. It is not uncommon to have seed germinate and develop throughout the winter and very early spring. Usually, the turf has developed enough to use pre-emergence safely in late February and early March.
Remove leaves from the lawn as soon as possible. All turf types, especially your fescue, can be damaged if the leaves are allowed to stay on the lawn for extended periods. Blowing the leaves is preferred over raking if you have young fescue turf.
Be sure to adjust your mower to the highest setting when it is time to cut young and mature turf.
There is probably nothing wrong with your seed, as long as you used a quality turf type fescue. Fescue seed germination has been very slow to non-existent this fall due to the extremely dry weather we have been experiencing. This has been exacerbated by dry breezy warmer days that increase the drying rate of the soil and surrounding turf. Most seed, including grass seed, requires a certain amount of constant soil moisture to start the germinating process. If the sufficient moisture level is not reached, germination will not occur. Quality grass seed can lay on the ground for a very long time and not germinate but still be viable and germinate when it starts to rain.
It will take much longer for your seed to germinate and develop with these conditions so it is best to be patient and understand this is normal and applying additional seed is often not required. In most cases it is wasting seed by putting new seed on top of seed that is perfectly fine and viable.
Even if you have irrigation, please be patient.
You can easily test a section of the lawn by applying roughly a gallon of water to a two-foot by two-foot section of an area in question every day. You should see germination and development within four to six days as long as you didn’t skip a day.
Reminder: Leaves will be falling soon, please keep leaves off the lawn as much as possible. They will kill all turf types if they stay on the turf for long.
A reminder from the last newsletter. Late September starts the Large Patch fungus season on Zoysia, Bermuda, Centipede and St. Augustine. Fairway Green is seeing more cases of this disease every year in our area. Large Patch Fungus is a damaging disease on Zoysia, Bermuda, Centipede and St. Augustine turf in the fall and early spring. This disease is similar to Brown Patch Fungus on Fescue. Large Patch Fungus needs to be controlled with two applications of fungicide in the fall when ground temperatures are between 50 and 70 degrees. Damage occurs before you are aware you have it and is not visible until green-up in the spring. Preventative Fungicide in the fall and early spring is the only way to control this disease.
Now is the time to apply a pre-emergent for your warm-season turf. A quality pre-emergent will help control annual grassy weeds like Poa annua (annual Bluegrass) and some winter annual broadleaf weeds.
Doveweed is one of our newest problematic and prolific summer annual broadleaf weed invading lawns throughout our area. Doveweed is a very aggressive and rapidly spreading weed with narrow soft low growing leaves that resembles grass. Doveweed is spreading rapidly in individual lawns and geographically. It has become one of the most problematic weed to manage for turf managers and property owners. Small blue to purple flowers can be seen throughout the summer. Doveweed is a vegetative type broadleaf weed that spreads by stem nodes and by seed. Doveweed will overtake all turf types leaving bare areas in late fall/early winter when the weed ends its life cycle for the year.
Controlling Doveweed is very difficult. At this time, we do not have a proven post or pre-emergent herbicide available to effectively control Doveweed in Fescue turf. There are some pre and post-emergent herbicides available for Bermuda and Zoysia. However, these products are proving to offer limited success in most cases. Researchers at NC State University have been working with pre and post-emergent herbicides for a few years trying to find effective and reliable control options. Turf managers and property owners dealing with this prolific weed hope control options are found soon. Fairway Green has been using several different combinations to find the best control. We have heard some turf managers calling Doveweed the worst weed they have ever seen.
We are still seeing grub activity and turf damage. White grubs are the larva of Scarab beetles. There are several beetles that produce the grubs we see while digging in our lawns and natural areas. Grubs in North Carolina are Southern and Northern Chafer, Japanese, Asiatic, Green June and the May beetle. 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 or heat or drought 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 for the situation. All turf types are susceptible to grub feeding and damage.