SALISBURY — Most fescue lawns in Rowan County have ample strands of crabgrass and other weeds. Abundant rainfall and hot temperatures favor weed growth of endogenous weeds and drastically reduces growth of cool season fescue. In many instances the entire lawn is mostly weeds.
If this scenario best describes your lawn, it would be most practical to kill the entire lawn and start over. Herbicides containing glyphosate (Roundup) kill unwanted grasses and weeds to the root. Applying over the next couple of weeks gives the homeowner a chance to reapply to areas missed by the first spray. Lawns that are completely killed are easy to till, making a better seedbed for emerging grass seed.
Those who have splotches in their lawn must decide to kill the entire area or block off the area and kill in sections. Killing entire sections in blocks often works best for determining fertilizer and seed.
August is also the month to prepare for fertilization and reseeding in early September for fescue lawns. Cooler temperatures favor growth and development, which is important for survival during hot summer months. It is an opportune time to have your soil tested. This procedure eliminates the guesswork in determining the amount of lime and other essential nutrients needed for maximum growth.
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture provides this procedure as a free service to residents of North Carolina. The sample kits are made available from the Cooperative Extension Office. Don't bring soil to the Extension Office; send it via mail or UPS to Raleigh for the analysis.
Grass seeds germinate on areas that are shallowly raked with a garden rake or core aerated, but germination is best when a tiller is used to turn the soil, creating a seedbed 3 to 5 inches deep. The loose seedbed allows better penetration of roots during the growing season. Rake the soil smooth and remove any large clods or rocks as you till. The fluffed soil is difficult to seed and fertilize at times as your feet and push seeders often sink into the soft, newly tilled soil, leaving deep tracks or wheel ruts. You can rent a roller and firm the soil after seeding to make it smooth. In a few weeks after the seed germinates, sunken tracks and ruts will disappear.
Renovation time is just a few weeks away. The seeding window for fescue and other cool season grasses is fairly narrow so those who plan to renovate this fall need to prepare this month. Time has a way of slipping up each fall.
Darrell Blackwelder is county extension director, Rowan County Center, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, 2727-A Old Concord Road. Call 704-216-8970.