Spring is just around the corner. The pollen is already flying, and many of us are getting the itch to work in our yards. In Houston County, the majority of our grasses are warm-season grasses. Warm season grasses include bermuda, centipede, St. Augustine and zoysia. Warm season grasses go dormant in the fall and winter and begin growing again in the spring. The process of our grasses coming out of dormancy is known as "green-up."
Our turf grass will soon begin the green-up process. This is a critical time for our turf, and because of this there are some spring chores that should wait until the green-up process is finished.
Many post-emergent and some pre-emergent herbicides should not be applied during this time. Application of these herbicides can cause a delay in spring green-up. The use of post-emergence herbicides should especially be avoided during the spring green-up of turfgrasses that have been poorly managed, or that are experiencing winter injury problems. Properly maintained, healthy, vigorous turfgrasses are more tolerant to post-emergence herbicides than turfgrasses that have not been properly maintained or are suffering from winter injury. Always read the herbicide label. Some labels specifically state, "Do not apply during spring green-up." Many of the weeds that are present at the moment are winter weeds and will soon die with warmer weather. The best way to treat these weeds is with a pre-emergent in October.
Fertilizing should not take place until after green-up has finished. This process is usually completed by May. Early fertilization can make the turf susceptible to winter injury. Lime can be applied, but only if needed. A soil sample will determine your lime requirements. Centipede likes acidic soils, so lime is rarely needed.
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Wait until late April or May to put down seed. Right now our soils are not warm enough for seed to germinate and grow. Even though sod can be laid while the grass is dormant, it is much more risky. Wait until late April or May before laying sod to give it the best chance for survival.
Some spots in your yard may never green up. This is often called "winter kill," which is the result of poor growing conditions, improper care the year before or disease. Unfortunately it can be hard to tell what actually causes winter kill, but recommendations can be given to help improve turf care.
One publication I have found to very valuable is the lawn calendar for our different turf grasses. These calendars tell which months are best to perform certain tasks, and they also offer some general care information. They can be found at www.extension.uga.edu/garden/lawn, or you can contact our office for a copy.
DATES TO REMEMBER
Thursday: Vegetable Gardening 101, Perry (Rozar Park), 6 p.m.
March 19: Cloverleaf Project Achievement, Warner Robins, 8 a.m.
March 23: Area Soybean Production Meeting, Sumter County Extension Office, noon
For more information, contact Houston County Extension at 478-987-2028 or visit the office at 801 Main St., Perry. Office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Visit www.caes.uga.edu/extension/houston for more news about your local extension office.