A Monthly Guide To Care Of *Cool Season Lawns

(Bluegrass, Fescue, Ryegrass)

March: Give the lawn a healthy start by fertilizing with a lawn fertilizer specially formulated for fescue or bluegrass. This helps them to start the season strong enough to compete with weeds. If crabgrass, goose grass, and other grassy weeds are a problem on fescue, bluegrass, or ryegrass, you can fertilize and control weeds in one step by applying a product that combines the pre-emergence weed killers Balan and Treflan, which kill the grassy weeds as they germinate. Their seeds sprout as the soil first warms in spring – about the time daffodils are in full bloom. Don’t wait until later in spring to apply; by then it’s too late. Pre-emergence weed killers don’t work on seeds that have already sprouted.

April: Be on the lookout for insects and diseases from now through fall. If brown or ragged areas appear in the lawn, take snapshots and samples of affected grass that is still alive to a nurseryman or your county Extension agent for diagnosis.

May: Fertilize again early this month. For fescue lawns plagued with broadleaf weeds such as chickweed, clover, dandelions, and plantains, you can use one of the weed and feed fertilizers with the weed killer Trimec. If only a few weeds plague the lawn, pull them by hand, or spot treat with a liquid weed killer sprayed directly on the weed. Read label carefully to be sure the product you’ve chosen suits your grass type.

July and August: These hot months are the hardest on cool-season lawns; help them by watering every week when it doesn’t rain at least an inch. Even though the grass is off color, regular deep watering helps keep the roots healthy so the grass can come back strong through the fall. In August, apply a crabgrass preventer to kill annual bluegrass and other grassy winter weeds if they were a problem the previous year. Their seedlings, which begin to grow in August, hide deep in the grass. A pre-emergent herbicide kills the seedlings as they sprout; it doesn’t work on those that are already growing, so don’t wait until you see those plants to apply. By then, it’s too late.

September: Fertilize again about a month before the first frost. Cool-season grasses spring back to life after their summer rest and need food to fuel their growth. Use a balanced fertilizer or a formula specially formulated for fescue or bluegrass.

November or December: Between Halloween and Christmas, fertilize for the last time until early spring. This helps the lawn resist cold and stay healthy and thick enough to compete with the winter weeds. Use a product especially designed to condition the lawn for winter.

* Cool-season grasses prefer mild weather and are at their best in spring and fall. Yet, even during their dormant period, which is in summer or during extreme cold in winter, they never turn completely brown unless the weather is dry.
** Mowing: Set your mower blade at a height from the surface to allow for clipping a quarter of the total plant at each mowing.? Fescues perform better maintained at 2 1/2 to 3 inches; bluegrass does best at 2 inches.

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