New Beginnings

For those who have lost the battle with weeds and winter kill over the past two years there is still a chance to turn it around. There was not as much turf was lost to winter kill last year as the previous winter but we did lose some due to improper timing and rates of herbicides. For example glyphosate, i.e. Roundup, is safe on dormant bermudagrass for nonselective control of winter weeds. However, this mild winter and spring warm up allowed the turf to break dormancy earlier than normal. That means that this safe application in previous years became lethal and for the most part had some severe injury on the established lawn.

Glyphosate injury to bermuagrass.  Photo: Jay McCurdy, MSU Extension

Glyphosate injury to bermuagrass.
Photo: Jay McCurdy, MSU Extension

Others have been waiting for quite some time to get out their chemical control allowing the winter and summer weeds to become a part of the landscape. Remember anytime you use any herbicide, fungicide, or insecticide always read and follow the label.

The first point to keep in mind is that a healthy lawn can battle many of the insect, weed, and disease pressures that it faces. This means that a little extra care when mowing, fertilizing and watering your lawn will help maintain its ability to outgrow/crowd out the competition. Also remember that some weeds can also be indicators for agronomic problems such as low/high pH, poor drainage, standing water, and compaction. So keep some of the next steps in mind when trying to maintain your landscape.

Insufficient light for turf grass caused by mature trees. Photo: Missouri Botanical Garden

Insufficient light for turf grass caused by mature trees.
Photo: Missouri Botanical Garden

  • The right grass has been selected for you lawn
  • Soil testing and right fertilization is being applied
  • Meeting the water and light requirement of the grass
  • Mowing at the correct height and frequency

Remember that the oak/maple that you planted in the yard 15 years ago was small enough to allow light to the base of the tree and now it shades a good portion where you are noticing some turf decline over the past couple of years. This can be solved in by a few mutualistic ways. One way is to plant a ground cover/flower bed and place some plants that can thrive in a more shaded environment.

Just keep in mind that all plants need sunlight while some can thrive on indirect sunlight. The second option is to work with a professional on trying to remove some of the branches in the tree allowing more sunlight to pass through the canopy and reach the base of the tree.

Chemical control is just one piece of the puzzle and should accompany the others stated.

Shaded areas planted with tolerant plants. Photo: Southeast Garden

Shaded areas planted with tolerant plants.
Photo: Southeast Garden

If you experiencing some declining turf or weed issues remember most grasses are pretty hardy and with just a few extra steps you can provide your family with many years of an aesthetically pleasing landscape to be proud of. For more information about establishing and maintaining your home lawn contact your local extension office and ask for a publication 1322.