Source: AgriLife Today
Homeowners can prepare their lawns for winter dormancy and set turfgrasses up for a good spring and summer now, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.
Becky Grubbs, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension turfgrass specialist, College Station, said lawns are about to enter dormancy throughout much of the state, and a few fall maintenance measures will set grass up for a strong spring reemergence next year.
“It’s typically best to perform some of these practices a little earlier, but it’s not too late for some regions of the state because we’re still experiencing warmer temperatures than usual,” she said. “But the window is closing, so now is the time to take action on your lawns.”
Generally, AgriLife Extension recommends the absolute latest fall fertilizer application should be made six weeks before the location’s historic first-frost date, she said.
“If you water at all, just do so based on visible wilt until growth is suspended,” she said. “Then, if there is no active growth or grasses go dormant, you should stop watering completely. This season has been warmer and drier than usual, so it all depends on the location and conditions.”
Preemergence herbicides to combat winter annuals like lawn burweed can be applied now, she said.
“We typically want to apply when soil temperatures reach approximately 70 degrees,” she said. “That’s often around the time when you have four to five consecutive days of 60-65-degree nighttime temperatures consistently. If you haven’t gotten your preemergent out yet this year, there may still be time as we had one of the hottest and driest Septembers on record.”
Grubbs recommends homeowners select products that are exclusively herbicides for this purpose.
Homeowners should monitor their yards for armyworms up to the first frost, she said. They can be voracious consumers and should be treated quickly.
“Homeowners should keep an eye out for them, especially on newly planted areas,” she said. “They can feed on vegetation down to the soil. While they generally do not kill our warm-season grasses, they can create exposed areas, which allow weeds and other problems to move in.”
As temperatures begin to drop in the fall, select turfgrass diseases will become more active. Grubbs said many practices already discussed here, including reduced irrigation and nitrogen-based fertilization in the fall will help prevent disease problems.
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