Fescue Seeding in the Transitional Zone The proper time to seed tall fescue (cool season turf) in the Transitional Zone is at the end of August to mid-October; not the spring. Ground and air temperatures are in the best range for the longest period time for germination and root development. Most fescue lawns require some… Read more »
The proper time to seed tall fescue (cool season turf) in the Transitional Zone is at the end of August to mid-October; not the spring. Ground and air temperatures are in the best range for the longest period time for germination and root development. Most fescue lawns require some extent of seeding every fall. This is due to heat/dry periods, shade, and disease damage.
Fescue declines in the summer due to high ground temperatures, disease pressure and dry weather. Cool season turf (like Fescue) will lose root mass once ground temperatures reach 80 degrees. Plant loss also occurs when dry air temperatures reach 80 degrees. Cool season grasses use more energy than they can store in summer causing plant decline. Irrigation can help but only so much.
Additionally, fescue lawns that did not receive regular preventative fungicides appear to have the worst damage once again this summer.
Core aeration seeding is a common practice to seed in the fall. Core aeration helps reduce upper soil compaction and prepares a seeding bed at the same time. A seeding bed is needed to have the best seed to soil contact for the best possible germination rate and establishment.
Fairway Green uses and offers to customers and non-customers its very own hand selected turf type tall fescue mixture; Southern Perfection. Fairway Green’s, Southern Perfection, contains a mixture of 35% Falcon IV, 30% Tribute II, 30% Renegade DT and 2% Rockstar Kentucky Bluegrass. “Turfgrass for the next century…winning the fight against surface-feeding insects, grows low but grows strong…your lawn will never be greener, naturally cut down on clippings and mowing”. Falcon IV, Tribute II and Renegade DT are the best tall fescue varieties available in the industry. They are tested across multiple states, locations and environments these varieties exhibit improved turf quality, vibrant turf color, excellent disease resistance, and improved stress tolerance. Rockstar Kentucky bluegrass is the fastest establishing elite Kentucky bluegrass available in the lawn care industry. Looking for elite turf, fast germination and enhanced density of turf for improved sod strength and traffic tolerance? Look no further than Rockstar. In addition to all these great qualities, Southern Perfection contains 0% weed seed and 0% other crop seed.
Southern Perfection is now Water Star® qualified by the Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance (TWCA). Visit Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance for additional information about this exciting program.
August is one of the more difficult times of the year for lawn care in this part of the country. This is when many homeowners have concerns about the amount of weeds in the lawn and declining turf (this is especially the case for Fescue turf). There are a couple of uncontrollable reasons for this situation.
Pre-emergent applied in late winter/spring have broken down by now allowing crabgrass and other weeds to germinate and develop. Pre-emergent has the ability to control crabgrass and other weeds germinating from seed to establish in the lawn until it breaks down. Pre-emergent is designed to break down in late July to early August so we can start seeding Fescue at the end of August to the middle of October. If pre-emergent did not break down, you would not have Fescue seed germination and development. Since most, if not all, Fescue lawns in the Transitional Zone require seeding in the fall, this break down is instrumental to fescue seed germination.
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 are the only way to control this disease.
Planting ornamentals in the fall allows the plants to establish with less stress from heat and drought conditions. Ornamentals typically do not need watering every day after planting from a pot. A good rule of thumb would be every three days without natural rainfall. Over watering can promote root funguses which are deadly to the tree or shrub. Before planting, review recommended planting depths, locations and special soil or pH requirements. Be sure to not plant too deep. This is a common problem and will eventually cause permanent damage to the tree or shrub.
In the Transitional Zone (where we live) it is important to seed Fescue (cool season turf) in the fall not the spring. Fescue seedlings need the cooler months of fall, winter and very early spring to mature to survive warm/hot ground temperatures of late spring and early summer. The warmer ground temperatures can damage the seedling’s root system making it unable to survive. In addition, pre-emergent for summer Crabgrass and other weeds cannot be applied in winter and early spring (as it should be) if seed is planted at that time. Pre-emergent will stop seedling germination and growth killing the plant. The lack of properly applied pre-emergent will allow crabgrass to invade the lawn choking out any desirable turf. This would include any of the spring seeded fescue.
Fairway Green wanted to remind everyone that we still have an armyworm threat this month. We have seen several cases in the past two weeks. Armyworms lay eggs on structures like homes, trees and shrubs. Eggs hatch as larva, drop to the ground and start feeding heavily on healthy actively growing turf for about two to three weeks. After feeding and damaging the turf, they will bury in the ground and pupate. This life cycle continues until October/November. North Carolina could see two to four generations of fall armyworms. It is thought that they do not survive winter months in North Carolina.
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If you live in the Transitional Zone chances are you will have to seed your Fescue lawn every year or at least every other year. Tall Fescue in this zone faces many challenges during the year that can create turf damage or injury. Diseases can be one of the causes for turf damage. Brown Patch Fungus, Dollar Spot and Pythium can be devastating to fescue. Then we experience a couple of months of air and ground temperatures that are too high for plant growth and survival. Extended dry periods along with the heat make for a damaging combination on all turf types. In fact, when the ground temperatures reach the upper 80 degrees to low 90 degrees, cool season grasses root system stops developing and will lose root mass that supports plant surviva.
We are now in the fall grub cycle where they can cause major damage if not caught early. 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 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, 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