By Darrell Blackwelder www.farmcarolina.com Home gardeners are phoning and sending e-mails with questions about their lawns. Unseasonably warm weather has created problems with weeds and other pests. Below are a few situations that you may have encountered.
Q: I have patches of brown grass showing up in my fescue lawn. It has been perfect until now. Is there anything I can do to eliminate the problem?
A: If it were in early June, brown patch may be the culprit. However, many lawns were over-seeded with premium fescue blends that have been accidentally contaminated with annual ryegrass. According to weed specialists at N.C. State University, seed producers from Oregon altered their production practices and were unable to control annual ryegrass when harvested. It is a widespread problem in this area. As the annual ryegrass dies, which is normal, it leaves brown areas within the lawn. There is no control for this problem.
Q: I have a weed in my lawn that is taking over. Almost my entire lawn looks like a late spring snow. It is a fuzzy white weed that keeps getting worse each year. What is this weed and how do I control it?
A: The weed is most likely trampweed (Facelis retusa). It is a common problem during periods of extended drought in weak lawns. It’s actually a winter annual that can be controlled with broadleaf weed control sprays in the spring. It’s too late now to control the weed. Your major focus should be on the health of your fescue.
Go to http://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/Weeds/Facelis.aspx# for more information about trampweed.
Q: I have a large infestation of sandspurs (sandburs) in my yard just like we have at the beach. They have spread all over my yard. How do you control this weed?
A: Sandbur can be a very troublesome weed, not only at the coastal areas but here in the Piedmont. Many have inadvertently brought the weed to their homes on campers or clothing while vacationing at the beach. The plant grows well in sandy soils, but will germinate from the seeds (burs) easily in loam and clay soils. Maintaining a healthy lawn will help reduce the weeds’ germination and encroachment. Be sure to properly fertilize, mowing at correct heights, and adequately irrigate your existing lawn. Sandbur is difficult to control with herbicides. Partial control can be achieved with pre-emergence herbicides. Post emergence weed control formulas may be used with repeated applications. Go to http://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/ Weeds/Sandbur.aspx for more complete information on sandbur control.
Darrell Blackwelder is the County Extension Director with horticulture responsibilities with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. 704-216-8970.