Cool Season Grass
Cool season grasses are commonly in the north and the west. Cool season grasses peak growing season is fall and spring. It is difficult for cool grasses to grow in summer as it is hotter, and cool grasses normally grow better in a colder climate. Winter is easier for cool grasses than warm season grasses as cool season grasses can adjust to a colder climate. Tall fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass are two examples of cool season grasses.
After a blissful winter, cool season grasses will need some care. Before you can begin any work you must wait for the snow to thaw.
Preventing Crabgrass- Crabgrass is a weed that grows in patches and sucks nutrients from grass and plants around it. Crabgrass spreads very quickly if it is not killed immediately. The best way to kill or prevent crabgrass is with crabgrass preventer. The best time to apply crabgrass preventer is in early February, after all the frost has thawed.
Tip: If you are thinking of planting a new lawn or overseeding you must wait 90 days after the crabgrass preventer has been applied.
- Fire ant Prevention- Fire ants are larger and more aggressive than the garden variety black ant. You can tell if your lawn is infected by their red exterior, hence the name fire ant. Fire ants will usually appear in Spring. They not only destroy your grass but are fiercely protective of their home. Fire ant granules are the best way to prevent and kill fire ants. (A granule is a small compound of a substance and is similar to a crumb of food.) Apply the granules when the temperature is 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to water the lawn after the granules are applied. This should be done mid-February - March.
- Bare Spot Repair- All lawns at one time or another have bare spots. Bare spots are more noticeable after the frost has thawed. A combination of products is needed for this step. You will need grass seed, mulch, and fertilizer to cover the bare spots. All-in-one fertilizer is available for bare spots and can be applied directly to the grass. All-in-one fertilizer has all of the products listed above in its formula. After you have the fertilizer, make sure you water the spot where it is placed. This should be done from March to mid- April.
- Spring Seeding/ Overseeding with Tall Fescue- Planting is done for one purpose and that is to grow, lawns are no different than crops. Opportune times for seeding cool grass is in spring or fall. Seeding is mainly done for growing new grass over a preexisting lawn or bare soil. Overseeding is seeding grass seeds over a preexisting lawn. There a number of reasons to overseed a lawn such as if it is insect prone, to fill in bare spots, or if it is an old lawn. Overseeding for cool grasses should be done in spring to fall. This ensures the grass seeds planted will have a smooth transition from seed to grass. There is a method of overseeding called slit-seeding. Slit-seeding involves a device called a slit-seeder that uses slits to plant the seeds. Inside the slit-seeder, there are vertical blades that cut through the thatch layer of grass and plant the seeds. Using this method of overseeding guarantees the grass seed enters the soil and germinates. After you have planted the seeds be sure to water the lawn deeply so the grass seeds enter into the. After the seeds have been planted 10-14 days’ water 2-3 times a day. When the lawn has fully germinated, water the normal amount for the type of grass you have.
Tip: If you have used crabgrass preventer, you will have to wait 90 days to plant grass seeds.
- Lawn pH Level- Raising or lowering your lawns pH level can allow to plant various flowers, as well as kill and weeds that grow at a different level. Checking your pH level is actually easier than it sounds. There are home tests that allow to stick a vial into the soil to see your level. Another option is to send it off for testing for a professional opinion. A pH level of 7 is considered neutral, above 7 is high, and below 7 is low. You can raise or lower your soil’s pH level using lime and sulfur. Lime is used to raise your soil’s pH level. Lime can be applied any time of the year but spring and fall are the best times. Lime is applied directly to the soil by a spreader or by hand if you wear gloves. Sulfur is used to lower the pH levels of soil and is applied the same way as lime. Sulfur can also be applied any time of year but like lime it is best in spring or fall.
- Using Weed and Feed - Weeds are a pain since they suck the nutrients from plants. Lawns are susceptible to weeds especially during spring and summer. There is a way you can kill weeds and give your lawn back the nutrients it needs. It is a fertilizer called weed and feed, it kills weeds and feeds the lawn nutrients. The lawn must be wet when applying it as it is a fertilizer. Weed and feed is needed all year long but mainly during peak weed seasons like spring.
Tip: Do not apply to a lawn that has been seeded. You must wait 90 days before applying Weed and Feed. Wait 36-48 hours after application to water lawn.
- Lawn Fertilizer- Every lawn can use fertilizer to help it grow. There are two types of fertilizers: liquid and granule. Liquid fertilizers are absorbed by plants quicker and need to be applied every 2-3 weeks. Most liquid fertilizers come as a concentrate and are mixed with water to create the substance. Other liquid fertilizers come as hoses and are just sprayed on. Granule fertilizers are dry and are poured from shakers, then have to watered to be absorbed by the soil. There two types of granule fertilizers: Quick release or slow release. Quick release fertilizers give nutrients to plants immediately and generally last for 3-4 weeks. Slow release fertilizers are encased in plastic and gradually give the plant nutrients, these fertilizers usually last about 12 weeks.
- Controlling Pests- Besides fire ants there are many other insects lurking underneath the soil. Insecticide is the primal method for disposing of unwanted soil habitants. There are two types of insecticide, liquid and granule. Granules are the best solution for lawns as it can cover a larger area than liquid. The granules are applied over the grass and are then watered in. Granules reach above and below to kill the pests.
- Keep using weed and feed to keep weeds at bay.
- You will not need to use lawn fertilizer as much in summer, if weeds are present do not fertilize the lawn.
- Be sure to keep your lawns pH level balanced so the grass grows healthy. Remember to use lime and sulfur to keep the lawn balanced.
- Pests are more apparent in summer than other season. Continue to monitor the lawn for pests and apply insecticide as needed.
- Prevent Lawn Fungus- Lawn fungus is not a mushroom you might see in fall but diseases your lawn can contract. The most common diseases are dollar spot and brown patch. These diseases will leave your lawn looking discolored and unhealthy. The way to prevent and combat this is with Fungicides. Similar to insecticides, fungicides come in a liquid and granule form. Both versions are applied the same way. When you apply the fungicide make sure the temperature is above 70 degrees. Liquid fungicides last about 3-4 weeks and granule fungicides last about 6-8 weeks.
- Spot Weed Control- Sometimes your lawn may have only one spot with weeds. In this case, you do not need to use weed and feed but a different product meant for use on a single spot. Selective herbicides are an organic product that kill only certain kinds weeds and will not harm your grass. Herbicides differ from weed and feed as it does not give your lawn nutrients as it kills the weeds. Selective herbicides must be applied at a temperature of 87 degrees or below otherwise your lawn may become damaged.
- Making your lawn greener- Summer is a time when cool season grasses lose their growth and become pale yellow or green. You may think this is normal for your lawn but it is not. If your lawn is pale yellow or green, then it is lacking iron and nitrogen. There is an easy fix to get lawn looking green again. There are products that made specifically with iron and nitrogen properties, meant to give your lawn the nutrients it needs. It comes a liquid and granule form. The granules must be watered after applied. Unlike, other fertilizers these products do not require a certain temperature to use them.
- Keep checking each season for new pests. Insects are not as active in fall but they still might steal nutrients from the grass.
- Lawns can still be lacking iron and nitrogen in fall as it can be a year round problem. If your lawn is still lacking iron and nitrogen, keep using the formula for a green lawn.
- Aeration- We have all had our lawn aerated at some point. The reason of aeration is to pull up “plugs” of soil to let the lawn grow and breathe easier. Aeration is done with aerators that pull up and makes the holes in the soil. The best time to aerate for cool season grasses is fall as it is a peak growing season.
- Overseeding with Tall Fescue seed in fall- As previously stated, fall is a good time to seed or overseed. Overseeding is a good time to prepare for winter using the slit-seeder method.
Tip: If you have used crabgrass preventer, you will have to wait 90 days to plant grass seeds.
- As always a balanced pH level is key to a healthy. Keep checking the levels to make sure the soil is good condition.
- Repair any bare spots in your lawn before winter. Use the all in one product to fix any issues with bare spots.
- If you are not overseeding in fall, winterize your lawn by applying fertilizer to combat any frost damage.
There is nothing vitally important to do in winter for cool season grass. As long as your lawn is prepared for the frost, sit back and relax.