Fall Lawn Care Reminders

The kids are back in school, the first Husker football game will start in a couple of weeks – it is officially fall! During this time of year, it is an ideal time to seed the cool season turfgrasses tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass. For all of you horticulture enthusiasts, be sure to follow Nicole Stoner, extension educator focused in horticulture’s blog or go to Nebraska Extension’s Hort Update newsletter.

This week, I took some of the lawn tips from August 19th edition of Hort Update on site preparation for lawn seeding or over seeding. For success, seedbed preparation is important to assure seed to soil contact.

For newly planted turf, complete the following steps:

1). Remove all construction debris, branches, etc.
2). Control perennials weeds with glyphosate (Roundup). Two to three applications at the recommended timing may be needed.
3). Establish grade for proper surface drainage.
4). Use a rotary tiller or other cultivation equipment to work the soil to a depth of six inches, incorporate compost while tilling. Avoid tillage of wet soil as this creates compaction. Do not try to improve clay soil by tilling in sand as this can increase compaction. For clay soils, spread a one inch layer of compost over the site and till it in. Then spread another one inch layer and till perpendicular to the first tillage.
5). Allow soil to settle after tilling and prior to seeding.
6). Keep the soil moist after seeding.

To over seed your lawn, complete the following:

1). Mow the area 1 to 1.5 inches tall.
2). If there is excess thatch, one-half inch thick or more, power rake aggressively and removed debris.
3). Aerify the area, punching 20 to 40 holes per sq. ft. with the largest tines available. Make at least two to three passes over the area to be seeded.
4). Apply a starter fertilizer.
5). Seed using a drop spreader or power overseeder (slit or slicer seeder).
6). Keep the soil moist.

Fall is also a great time to fertilize cool season grasses. Elizabeth Killinger, extension educator reminds us that cool season grasses, like Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue, are beginning to wake up from the summer slump and are vigorously growing.  Actively growing turf means the perfect time to apply fertilizer applications.  Fertilizing in mid-September encourages new vegetative growth, like tillers, rhizomes, and stolons, which help fill in those thin areas left behind by disease or summer stress and increase density of the turf.  September fertilization also encourages root production and making of products that will be stored in the plants’ crown.  A turfgrass that has ample stored ‘food’ reserves will be better able to survive winters’ stresses.


Fall Lawn & Garden Tips

I love the colors of fall that will soon be upon us, but there are a few gardening tasks to consider for lawn and landscape improvement next year.  While I am not a horticulturalist, I do love gardening and landscaping and have learned a lot from my horticultural colleagues which is why I’m featuring some great tips from them!Yard and Garden Green Logo

Most people ask about killing dandelions in the spring or summer, but actually the best time to control broadleaf perennial weeds such as dandelions, clover and violets starts September 15. During this time of year, more herbicide is likely to move into the plants’ roots as plants prepare for winter dormancy. This increases your success rate by killing the weeds, not just the foliage. Also, applications made now have less chance of affecting nearby trees and ornamentals, unlike spring applications made around non-target species that are just leafing out and/or blooming.

Nebraska Extension’s Hort Update also provided information on fall fertilization of cool season turfgrasses. Fall fertilization encourages production of new tillers and/or rhizomes and stolons that increase turf density. This fertilization encourages rooting and production of storage products that help plants survive the stresses of winter and next year’s growing season. Almost all turf areas should be fertilized with 1 lb N/1000 sq ft using a fertilizer with 25 to 50% of the nitrogen as slow release (sulfur or polymer coated urea, urea formaldehyde, or natural organics). The next most important fertilization is near the last mowing.

Fall is also a good time to divide some perennials such as peonies and irises. If you have herbs or other annuals you overwinter in the house, think about bringing them in the house now before frost warnings. You can start taking root cuttings form annual bedding plants such as begonias, coleus, geraniums and impatiens, which do well in a sunny window and can provide plants for next year’s garden.

For more information on horticultural topics, go to Nebraska Extension’s environment.unl.edu website. There you will find information from the Backyard Farmer show, turfgrass recommendations, acreage insights and subscribe to the HortUpdate newsletter.

Nebraska Extension Horticultural Blogs:
Husker Hort
Plants & Pests with Nicole