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Turfgrass Care for Homeowners on the K-State Radio Network

(By Jared Hoyle, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

Just recently I was invited to speak with Eric Atkinson, host of Agriculture Today a daily program distributed to radio stations throughout the state. It features K-State agricultural specialists and other experts examining agricultural issues facing Kansas and the nation. I spoke with Eric about some issues that Kansas homeowners might be facing with their lawns and a couple things that homeowners shouldn’t worry about this year.

Click on the link below and hear more about;

  • possible winter injury
  • fertility
  • weed control
  • and more!

Always remember to READ THE LABEL for the correct rate, turfgrass tolerance, and specific instructions before application!!!

***Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is solely for identification purposes and does not imply recommendation or endorsement, nor is criticism implied of similar products not mentioned by Kansas State University.***

Don’t forget to follow me on twitter @KSUTurf.

Also, visit our facebook page www.facebook.com/KSUTurf

Don’t get left behind with your fall lawn care!

(By Jared Hoyle; KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

All summer we have been trying to keep our cool-season turfgrass alive.  Now is the time if we had some die because of heat or drought to build a healthy turfgrass for the winter and next years hot summer.  There are many things to talk about so we will list them below.

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First all – FERTILITY.  I talked about this awhile ago in a previous blog post so I will just list that link and you can go back and ready it.

It’s Finally September – That Means Football and Fescue

Next – SEEDING. This is from Ward Upham’s (KSU Research and Extension) last news letter but wanted to make sure it was put in the fall lawn care blog.  He really explains the seeding process and information pertaining to seeding in this article.

“September is the best month to reseed cool-season lawns such as tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass. However, you can get by with an early to mid-October planting for tall fescue. October 15 is generally considered the last day for safely planting or overseeding a tall fescue lawn in the fall. If you do attempt a late seeding, take special care not to allow plants to dry out. Anything that slows growth will make it less likely that plants will mature enough to survive the winter.
Seedings done after the cut-off date can be successful, but the success rate goes down the later the planting date. Late plantings that fail are usually not killed by cold temperatures but rather desiccation. The freezing and thawing of soils heave poorly rooted grass plants out of the ground, which then dry and die. Keeping plants watered will help maximize root growth before freezing weather arrives. (Ward Upham)”

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So what I am getting out of Ward’s article is that you are going to have a better success for seeding if you do it now and not wait until later.

There is lots more information in the Tall Fescue publication from the KSRE bookstore.

http://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/Item.aspx?catId=545&pubId=1460

Also, if you want to know what varieties work well in Kansas.  Check out the Tall Fescue Varieties for Kansas Publication. (New NTEP data has not be used to update the varieties.  – Coming soon!)

http://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/Item.aspx?catId=545&pubId=19180

This will get everyone started.  There is lots more information out there about cool season turfgrass management at the KSU Turfgrass Website.  Check it out at  http://www.k-state.edu/turf/

 

 

 

 

Time to Think About Managing Your Warm-season Home Lawn

Time to Fertilize Warm-Season Grasses    

    June is the time to fertilize warm-season lawn grasses such as bermudagrass, buffalograss, and zoysiagrass. These species all thrive in warmer summer weather, so this is the time they respond best to fertilization. The most important nutrient is nitrogen (N), and these three species need it in varying amounts.

buffalograss fairway

    Bermudagrass requires the most nitrogen.  High-quality bermuda stands need about 4 lbs. nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. during the season (low maintenance areas can get by on 2 lbs.). Apply this as four separate applications, about 4 weeks apart, of 1 lb. N per 1,000 sq. ft. starting in early May. It is already too late for the May application, but the June application is just around the corner. The nitrogen can come from either a quick- or slow-release source. So any lawn fertilizer will work.  Plan the last application for no later than August 15. This helps ensure the bermudagrass is not overstimulated, making it susceptible to winter-kill.

    Zoysiagrass grows more slowly than bermudagrass and is prone to develop thatch.   Consequently, it does not need as much nitrogen. In fact, too much is worse than too little. One and one-half to 2 pounds N per 1,000 sq. ft. during the season is sufficient. Split the total in two and apply once in early June and again around mid-July. Slow-release nitrogen is preferable but quick-release is acceptable.  Slow-release nitrogen is sometimes listed as “slowly available” or “water insoluble.”

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    Buffalograss requires the least nitrogen of all lawn species commonly grown in Kansas. It will survive and persist with no supplemental nitrogen, but giving it 1 lb. N per 1,000 sq. ft. will improve color and density. This application should be made in early June. For a little darker color, fertilize it as described for zoysiagrass in the previous paragraph, but do not apply more than a total of 2 lb. N per 1,000 sq. ft. in one season. Buffalograss tends to get weedy when given too much nitrogen. As with zoysia, slow-release nitrogen is preferable, but fast-release is also OK. As for all turfgrasses, phosphorus and potassium are best applied according to soil test results because many soils already have adequate amounts of these nutrients for turfgrass growth. If you need to apply phosphorus or potassium, it is best to core aerate beforehand to ensure the nutrients reach the roots. 

Thatch Control in Warm-Season Lawns      

    Thatch control for cool-season lawn grasses such as bluegrass and tall fescue is usually done in the fall but now is the time we should perform this operation for warm-season turfgrasses such as bermudagrass and zoysiagrass. Because these operations thin the lawn, they should be performed when the lawn is in the best position to recover.  For warm-season grasses that time is June through July. Buffalograss, our other common warm-season grass, normally does not need to be dethatched.

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    When thatch is less than one-half inch thick, there is little cause for concern; on the contrary, it may provide some protection to the crown (growing point) of the turfgrass. However, when thatch exceeds one-half inch in thickness, the lawn may start to deteriorate. Thatch is best kept in check by power-raking and/or core-aerating. If thatch is more than 3/4 inch thick, the lawn should be power-raked. Set the blades just deep enough to pull out the thatch. The lawn can be severely damaged by power-raking too deeply. In some cases, it may be easier to use a sod cutter to remove the existing sod and start over with seed, sprigs or plugs.  If thatch is between one-half and a 3/4- inch, thick, core-aeration is a better choice.

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    The soil-moisture level is important to do a good job of core-aerating. It should be neither too wet nor too dry, and the soil should crumble fairly easily when worked between your fingers. Go over the lawn enough times so that the aeration holes are about 2 inches apart. Excessive thatch accumulation can be prevented by not overfertilizing with nitrogen. Frequent, light watering also encourages thatch. Water only when needed, and attempt to wet the entire root zone of the turf with each irrigation.

    Finally, where thatch is excessive, control should be viewed as a long-term, integrated process (i.e., to include proper mowing, watering, and fertilizing) rather than a one-shot cure. One power-raking or core-aeration will seldom solve the problem.

Influence of Nitrogen Rate and Source on Buffalograss Divot Recovery

(By Evan Alderman and Jared Hoyle, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

Buffalograss Fairway

In recent years, water conservation has been a growing trend in the golf course industry.With the spotlight on the golf course industry to become more conscious of the environment, one of the classic prairie grasses may be able to help low-budget golf course operations save water and money. buffalograss, Buchloe dactyloides, is known for being drought tolerant, which is why it fits into the discussion as a viable option for water conservation. Additionally, buffalograss is also known for its disease resistance, as well as its slow growing characteristics.

Buffalograss is very versatile and can be utilized on the golf course in native areas, roughs, and fairways. Many courses in Kansas are currently using this species in one of these three ways, however limited research exists to explore buffalograss management.

In order to explore buffalograss in further detail, we decided to look at how fertility influences recovery from divot injury. Furthermore, we looked at the influence of quick and slow release nitrogen fertilizers and their rate on the divot recovery.

Currently, we have three different divot studies in progress; two at the Rocky Ford

Divot making tool

Turfgrass Research Station in Manhattan, KS, and one at the Council Grove Country Club, in Council Grove, KS. Divots were made using a modified edger with 13 circular blades. This device was able to produce a divot similar to a real divot one would find on the course.

Field Trial at Rocky Ford Turfgrass Research Center; Manhattan, KS

Each study consists of eight treatments arranged in a two by four factorial. Factors included nitrogen rate and nitrogen source.  Nitrogen rates were 0, 1, 2, and 3 lbs N /1000ft2. Nitrogen sources were Urea and Polymer Coated Urea (Table 1).

Table.1  Influence of Nitrogen Rates and Sources on Buffalograss Divot Recovery Study Treatment List.

Treatment Source Rate
1 Urea* 0 lbs N/1000ft2
2 Urea 1 lbs N/1000ft2
3 Urea 2 lbs N/1000ft2
4 Urea 3 lbs N/1000ft2
5 Polymer Coated Urea*** 0 lbs N/1000ft2
6 Polymer Coated Urea 1 lbs N/1000ft2
7 Polymer Coated Urea 2 lbs N/1000ft2
8 Polymer Coated Urea 3 lbs N/1000ft2

*The quick release fertilizer that was used was a 46-0-0 Urea, and to achieve the 1lbs, 2lbs, 3lbs two half-rate applications were made, one on the initiation date, and the second four weeks after initiation.

**The slow release fertilizer used was a 120 day controlled release polymer coated Urea, with an analysis of 43-0-0. Just one application of the slow release was made.

Divot filled with pink sand to easier analyze divert recovery with digital image analysis.

Pictures of each divot are analyzed with digital image analysis software to measure how quickly the divot recovers. Other data taken include visual color, quality, and percent recovery.

Since the initiation of the study, we were able to see a definite flush of green from the application of the quick release fertilizer at all rates. In terms of quality, the plots that received 2lbs and 3lbs resulted in the highest quality.  Plots receiving 1lbs of N/1000ft2 also resulted in acceptable turfgrass color and quality although lower than the 2lbs and 3lbs N/1000ft2 treatments.  As far as the nitrogen rates influencing divot recovery, we hope to find at which nitrogen application rate and source will result in the quickest buffalograss divot recovery.