Readers’ Questions Answered This Week – Washington Daily News

This week he answers readers’ questions

Posted at 15:31, Thursday, March 2, 2023

When the weather is nice, there are usually a lot of questions because people really want to go outside. We do it in the spring, although it is not yet spring. We want to leave everything cleaned up and looking good. I have already heard one of my neighbors mowing the grass this week.

The first issue I wanted to address was about turf. It is common to clean up bermuda grass in the middle of winter with glyphosate (an active ingredient in Round-up and other products). Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide used to kill many weeds (and those flowers your wife doesn’t want you to kill) from broadleaf to grasses. It is cheap, effective and quite easy to use. Most stores even have REU (ready to use) packaging that is already mixed at the correct speed. A word of caution: don’t spray what you don’t want to kill. That being said, glyphosate will not kill Bermuda grass when it is dormant. However, the bermuda in our area was dormant for a short time, if at all, this year. If you spray after mid-January, there will likely be damage that can delay the greening of your lawn a bit. If you apply now, there could be significant damage and your grass won’t be green until late June.

The next question was about what to grow in your lawn. One of the latest trends is adding microclover to your cool season lawn. This is a great practice that can help save you money in the long run. Clover is a type of leguminous plant. Legumes extract nitrogen from the air and deposit it in the soil. Later, the nitrogen can be taken up by other plants. This is why we use legumes as cover crops in the garden. However, in our area, we cannot grow cool grasses on a perennial basis. Indeed, cool-season grasses are not recommended east of Highway 17, and there is discussion about replacing that recommendation with Highway 95. That being said, all-clover or microclover/fescue lawns will not work here. This leads to the next question: “How can I make the grass stay green all year round?”

The short answer is cool season grasses like fescue and kentucky 31. They can grow here on a short-term basis, but not as a perennial lawn. The reason is that they die out during our hot, humid summer days. To maintain a cool lawn in our area, you’ll need a cooler microclimate, such as a north-facing slope near water. In this case it is possible, but annual seeding and other cultural practices will still be required. My motto is “Right plant, right place”, cool grasses are not suitable for our area. To save time and money, my advice is not to try to fight Mother Nature in all her glory.

There were also many questions about weed control; from turf to ornamental. The other day I went on a little scouting mission to a few local stores to see what was on the shelves. One of our most recommended products is finally off the shelves. The EPA changed the labeling of products containing the active ingredient atrazine several years ago. When this happens, we can usually use that product until the label actually changes. Well, that’s what happened. This was our product for Centipede Grass and St. Augustine Grass. Alternative products are those containing the active ingredients simazine or mesotrione. Guess what, they weren’t on the shelves either! So what do we do as homeowners now? Look for products that work easily on centipede and St. Augustine grass. In particular, these will be 3- or 4-channel products, which means that they have several active ingredients. Try to stay away from anyone taking quinclorac and/or 2, 4-D. While these are great chemicals and work very well on other herbs, centipede and St. John’s wort are sensitive to them at best. The active ingredient 2,4-D can be very harmful to St. John’s wort. Remember to do your homework and read the entire label before you spray anything! Above all, don’t use weed and grass feed in the warm season! Although pre-emergence herbicides can and should be used in some cases, they are not suitable for all types of turf. It’s also absolutely the wrong time of year to fertilize your warm season grass! Wait until we are done with landscaping, sometime in early to mid May.

If you would like more information on growing home lawns, sign up for my class on March 31ststr. This is part of the “What you need to KNOW so you can GROW” series that will be taught every Friday from 9:00am-11:00am throughout March. Call the office for more information and to schedule a class.

If you have problems growing in your home landscape, please call the extension office at (252)946-0111 or email me at Save the date April 14ththousand at 9:00 a.m. when Extension Master GardnerSM Volunteers will host the annual vegetable sale. Until then, happy gardening!

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