I really appreciated Gary Zoubek presenting at our lawn care workshop last Thursday! I also appreciated all the questions and good discussion; hopefully everyone walked away learning at least one new idea or tip!
One common question was what to do with areas that were killed out by summer patch last summer. Summer patch is a fungal disease that is favored by applying nitrogen too early in the spring, by a compromised root system by too wet of soils in the spring, by stress from summer heat, and irrigating in the evenings. Last year I was receiving calls from all over the County regarding this disease. Eventually affected areas can refill, but in many cases, that just didn’t happen. Preventive fungicides right now are recommended to help prevent the fungus from causing damage to your lawn again this summer.
So besides a preventive fungicide what can you do? The best time to reseed is actually in the fall. One option is to keep these areas weed-free including of crabgrass so that doesn’t overtake these areas. Reseed with a disease resistant variety in the fall following the recommendations in this extension circular.
Your other option is to reseed/overseed right now with a disease resistant variety knowing that you may fight crabgrass this first year. Overseeding and reseeding are recommended to occur from now through May 1 for Kentucky bluegrass and from now to early June for tall fescue. You can determine the correct timing of all lawn practices by visiting the turf calendar Web site. Simply choose whether you have Kentucky bluegrass or fescue. Click on a lawn practice and scroll the circle on the calendar area to the current month to find the recommendation for that time.
Some other tips regarding lawn care: sharpening lawn mower blades is key to not shredding the grass which can invite pathogens that cause disease; mulch lawn clippings as often as possible as they contain nitrogen that can be released back into the soil; use a fertilizer product with the highest amount of a slow release nitrogen as possible (check fine print on the fertilizer bag); and sweep or use a leaf blower to send all clippings and granular pesticides back onto the lawn as leaving them on the sidewalk allows for them to be washed into the gutters and eventually lakes and streams. Right now, a silvery colored fungus called powdery mildew is visible in places in lawns that are shady or have minimal air movement. We don’t typically recommend a fungicide as this disease is more aesthetic than harmful.
Here’s wishing you a nice lawn this summer! Also a reminder of our free Container Gardening workshop to be held April 19th from 5:30-7:00 p.m. at the Clay County Fairgrounds. Elizabeth Killinger, UNL Extension Educator, will be presenting on container gardening for vegetables and flowers, creating a few container gardens for door prizes, and provide creative ideas for container gardening. Please RSVP at 402-762-3644 so we can have a meal count, hope to see you there, and invite your friends!