A Monthly Guide To Care Of *Warm-Season Lawns

(Bahia, Bermuda, Carpetgrass, Centipede, St. Augustine, Zoysia)

February or March: Before your lawn shows any sign of turning green, mow to at least half its current height to remove dead top growth. Be sure to collect the clippings if your mower doesn’t have a bag; use a stiff metal rake or detaching rake to scratch deeply into the grass to bring up debris.? For large lawns, you can rent a de-thatching machine.

February, March, or April: Just before the last frost, apply a pre-emergence weed killer to knock out crabgrass, goose grass, and other grassy weeds before they come up. Their seeds are waiting to sprout when the soil first warms in spring – about the time daffodils and forsythia 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. If brown or ragged areas appear in the lawn, take snapshots and samples of the affected area that is still alive to your Extension agent for diagnosis.

April or May: Give warm-season lawns their first spring feeding about two or three weeks after they turn green. This helps them start the season strong enough to compete with weeds. Use a product that contains controlled release fertilizer. These normally last for two to three months. If broadleaf weeds such as chickweed, clover, dandelions, and plantains are a problem, apply one of the weed and feed products that are currently found on the market.

June or July: Fertilize warm-season grasses again. Use a weed and feed product if broadleaf weeds persist. If only a few weeds plague the lawn, spot treat them by using a liquid weed killer such as Roundup. Spray or wipe the weed killer directly on the weeds and be careful not to get any on the grass. Do not pull to weeds out by hand; it only causes more weeds!

August: A week or two before Labor Day, feed warm-season grasses with a formula especially designed to prepare them for winter. This will help the grass turn greener sooner next spring. This is also time to kill grassy winter weeds such as annual bluegrass, which begins sprouting now. The tiny seedlings are hidden deep in the grass – you can’t see them until later in the fall. To control, use a pre-emergence herbicide that contains Balan. This ingredient will control many grassy weeds, not just crabgrass.

September or October: In areas where frost waits until December, or doesn’t come at all, fertilize with a product that contains the weed killer Atrazine or Simazine to control grassy weeds such as annual bluegrass, or broadleaf ones such as chickweed or henbit.

* Warm-season grasses are those that grow during the warm months, growing fastest during summer. In winter, they are dormant; frost turns them brown.
** Mowing: Remove only 1/4 of plant at each mowing. Adjustments in mowing heights help warm season varieties withstand drought stresses.

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