Warm-Season Lawns

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Weather is warming up, and folks are itching to get outdoors after a long winter of indoor activities. Homeowners have been cooped up too long and feel they have to do something. The first thing on their mind in the spring seems to be the lawn. We visit the box stores and see the pallets of lawn fertilizer just inside the main entrance, and the marketing ploy works! We make our purchase and head out to fertilize our lawn. Here is the question though! When is the best time to fertilize your lawn? When we see the pallets of fertilizer at the store? As soon as it gets warm outside? When the “yellowbells” or “Forsythia” bloom? How do we know when is the best time to fertilize? Not only when, but how much do we apply? I want it to green up really fast, so I’ll just pour pounds on it! That is not sound advice, or even practical. It can actually be very harmful, not only for your lawn, but for the environment in general.

So, you are not sure about when or how much to fertilize your lawns. Is there a recommended height for your lawn? I bet some of you irrigate, but are you aware of how much water you are applying, and when is the best time to irrigate? I know, I know, what about the advantages of burning off my lawn every winter? I’m not sure how this even came into existence. Burning the yard can cause more harm to the crown of the plants than any possible benefit that might come from burning. A question that comes in all the time is when is the best time to put “weed & feed” on my centipede lawn. My short answer to that is NEVER! The product they are referring to contains a fertilizer component and a pre-emergent that will prevent weed germination when properly applied. The conundrum is that the pre-emergent needs to be applied months before the fertilizer does, so unfortunately this one product cannot serve a dual purpose. If you apply when the pre-emergent is needed, then you waste the fertilizer; if you apply at the proper time to fertilize, then the pre-emergent is useless since most weeds have already germinated by then.

Fortunately, someone has researched the topic and has some pretty good recommendations for us to follow. NC State University has multiple professors on staff in the turf industry who spend hours and hours researching      turf-management. You can benefit from this research by attending “Warm Season-Lawns” on Saturday, March 23rd at O.P. Owens auditorium. The workshop will be held from 10:00 a.m. until noon. We will discuss managing warm-season grasses that are popular in this area. The most common are centipede, St. Augustine, Zoysia and carpetgrass. Lots of questions will be answered at the workshop. If you are unsure about any of these questions, please join us for this event.

You can visit the Robeson Extension website to find the flier with an Eventbrite signup or you may call the office to register for this free event.

For more information, contact Mack Johnson, Extension Horticultural Agent, at 910-671-3276, by Email at Mack_Johnson@nscu.edu, or visit our website.