Lawn Care Winter Update
Facts, Control, Expectations
The onset of colder temperatures ushers in a whole new crop of weeds in your lawn. These are the winter annuals and cool season weeds. They thrive in temperatures below 65 degrees. Due to the lack of color in dormant bermuda and zoysia lawns in the winter, weeds tend to stand out far more. This makes controlling them much more important. There are 2 particular weeds that present a large control challenge during the winter months: Poa annua and wild onion.
| Poa Annua, or annual bluegrass, is an annual grass that appears in small clumps during the winter. It can appear in all types of turf grass, but is most evident in bermuda and zoysia lawns because poa annua is green during the winter while the turf grass is brown and dormant. The best way to control it is through the use of pre-emergent treatments in the fall to stop the seeds from germinating when the temperatures drop. Poa annua most often shows up in thin lawns, because the pre-emergent designed to stop its germination is less effective in thin turf.
|Wild onion (or wild garlic) is a perennial winter weed that is particularly difficult to control. Most of the weed grows underground in the form of bulbs. The thin green hollow tubes that project from the bulbs out of the ground have a waxy coating that makes it difficult for herbicides to cling to. Wild onions tend to grow in clumps. If the bulbs are not killed during the winter, they will go dormant during the summer and begin producing more top growth the next winter. In order to control wild onions, we must use a systemic product that will attack the weed at the bulb. This often requires repeated treatments throughout the winter in order to achieve effective control.|
The level of weed infestation, and the current density of the turf are the 2 main factors that dictate how effectively we can control certain winter weeds in the lawn. Both grassy and broadleaf weed controls are included in the Top Turf Program. Grassy weeds may take multiple treatments to control.
Caring For Your New Fescue Lawn
How to keep your investment healthy
Many of you have recently had your fescue lawns core aerated and seeded. The fertilizers we apply at this time of year are specifically designed to help the new grass develop properly. Germination should be evident, and the new grass should be well on its way to growing to maturity. Keep in mind, however, that the grass is very young and immature currently. There are several things you should be doing in order to protect your investment.
Falling leaves should be kept off the new grass. In order for the fescue to continue to develop, it needs sunlight. Allowing leaves to cover newly seeded lawns for even a short period of time can cause severe damage to the new grass. You should avoid raking the leaves if possible because raking can damage the underdeveloped root systems. Blow the leaves with a blower, or try to pick them up with your mower if you have a bagging attachment.
You should mow your new fescue at a height of 2-2 1/2 inches for the first few mowings. You can then raise the mowing height to between 3-4 inches. Be sure to use a very sharp blade to avoid causing damage to the new grass. A dull blade will pull at the new grass, damaging the roots similar to the damage caused by raking.
Weeds will be present in your new lawn. This is unavoidable because the new fescue cannot withstand the effects of the weed controls. As a general rule, the weeds can be treated soon as the new grass has been mowed 3 or 4 times. The new grass must be mature enough that the weed controls will not kill it.