Mow the lawn when it first turns green in the spring with a reel mower set at ¾ to 1 inch or a rotary mower set as low as possible without scalping. Mow before the grass gets taller than 1½ to 2 inches. Then practice grasscycling. Grasscycling is simply leaving grass clippings on your lawn. Grass clippings decompose quickly and can provide up to 25 percent of the lawn's fertilizer needs. If prolonged rain or other factors prevent frequent mowing and clippings are too plentiful to leave on the lawn, they can be collected and used as mulch. Whatever you do, don't bag them! Grass clippings do not belong in landfills.
Apply 1 pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet several weeks after the grass turns green. Submit a soil sample to determine nutrient and lime requirements. In the absence of a soil test, use a complete nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (N-P-K) turf-grade fertilizer with a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio(for example, 12-4-8 or 16-4-8). (Contact your county Cooperative Extension Center for details.) Apply lime if suggested. To determine the amount of product needed to apply 1 pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet, divide 100 by the first number in the fertilizer ratio. For example, for a 16-4-8 fertilizer, divide 100 by 16. The result is 6.25 pounds of product per thousand square feet: 100/16 = 6.25
Water to a soil depth of 4 to 6 inches. Probe with a screwdriver to determine moisture depth. Bermudagrass needs a weekly application of about 1 to 1¼ inches of water. On sandy soils it often requires more frequent watering, for example, ½ inch of water every third day. It is often necessary to irrigate an area for 3 to 5 hours to apply 1 inch of water. (It requires 640 gallons of water to deliver 1 inch of water per thousand square feet.) Because clay soils accept water slowly, irrigate just until runoff occurs, wait ½ hour until the water has been absorbed, and then continue irrigating until the desired depth or amount is obtained. A dark bluish gray color, footprinting, and wilted, folded, or curled leaves indicate that it is time to water. Proper irrigation may prevent or reduce pest problems and environmental stress later in the summer.
Apply preemergence herbicides to control crabgrass, goosegrass, and foxtail by the time the dogwoods are in full bloom. Apply postemergence herbicides in May as needed to control summer annual and perennial broadleaf weeds such as knotweed, spurge, and lespedeza. Products containing two or three broadleaf herbicides usually control several different broadleaf weeds in a lawn more effectively. Be sure the product is labeled for use on bermudagrass. Apply postemergence herbicides only when weeds are present, and wait until three weeks after the lawn becomes green.
Check for white grubs and control them if necessary.
Vertically mow in May to remove the thatch (layer of undecayed grass) after the lawn becomes green if the thatch is more than ½ inch thick.
Replant large bare areas using sod or sprigs (3 to 5 bushels per thousand square feet). Common bermudagrass can be seeded using hulled bermudagrass at 1 to 2 pounds per thousand square feet.
Follow the March through May mowing guidelines.
Apply 1 pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet every 4 to 6 weeks using the March through May fertilizing guidelines.
Follow the March through May irrigation guidelines.
Follow the March through May insect control guidelines. August is the best time to control white grubs because they are small and close to the soil surface.
Apply postemergence herbicides as needed to control summer annual and perennial broadleaf weeds such as knotweed, spurge, and lespedeza. Crabgrass, goosegrass, dallisgrass, nutsedge, annual sedges, and sandbur can be controlled with postemergence grass control herbicides. Two or three applications 7 to 10 days apart are required for effective control. Apply herbicides only when weeds are present, the grass is actively growing, and the lawn is not suffering from drought stress.
Vertically mow to remove the thatch if it is more than ½ inch thick. Thatch can be removed monthly if the lawn has sufficient time to recover.
Mow the lawn following the March through May guidelines until several weeks before the first expected frost. Raise the mowing height ½ inch as winter approaches if the lawn will not be overseeded. Mowing height is usually raised in mid- to late September in the piedmont. Mowing height of lawns in the western and northwestern areas of the piedmont may be raised one to two weeks earlier, whereas mowing height in the south central and southeastern regions may be raised one to two weeks later.
Apply no more than ½ pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet in September, four to six weeks before the first expected frost. Use a low-nitrogen, high-potassium fertilizer such as a 5-10-30, or supplement a nitrogen fertilizer source with 1 pound of potash(K2O) using 1.6 pounds of muriate of potash (0-0-60), 2 pounds of potassium sulfate (0-0-50), or 5 pounds of sul-po-mag (0-0-22) per thousand square feet.
To determine the amount of product required to apply 1 pound of potash per thousand feet, divide 100 by the third number in the fertilizer ratio. For example, for a 6-6-12 fertilizer, divide 100 by 12. The result is 8.3 pounds of product per thousand square feet:
100/12 = 8.3
Follow the March through May irrigation guidelines. Dormant bermudagrass may need to be watered periodically when warm, windy weather prevails.
Apply preemergence or postemergence herbicides as needed to control winter annual and perennial broadleaf weeds such as chickweed and henbit. Preemergence herbicides do not control existing perennial weeds. Apply postemergence herbicides only when weeds are present. Do not apply herbicides designed to control annual bluegrass if the lawn is to be overseeded with ryegrass.
Follow the March through May insect control guidelines.
Mow overseeded bermudagrass at 1 inch before the grass gets taller than 1½ inches. Recycle nutrients by not collecting the clippings unless they accumulate heavily on the surface. Dormant bermudagrass that has not been overseeded need not be mowed.
Do not fertilize bermudagrass that has not been overseeded. For overseeded bermudagrass, apply ½ pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet in December and February. In the absence of a soil test, use a complete (N-P-K) turf-grade fertilizer with a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio (for example, 12-4-8 or 16-4-8).
Dormant bermudagrass may have to be watered periodically to prevent desiccation, especially when warm, windy weather prevails. Watering is particularly important for lawns that have been overseeded.
Apply broadleaf herbicides as needed to control weed such as chickweed, henbit, and hop clover. Selective herbicides can be applied in November or December to lawns that have not been overseeded to control annual bluegrass (Poa annua) and several winter annual broadleaf weeds.
Bermudagrasses range from coarse to fine in texture, and they grow low and dense. They are very drought tolerant, require full sunlight, and grow well on all but poorly drained soils. Bermudagrasses withstand wear and traffic, establish quickly, and recover rapidly from injury. They can invade flower beds and other areas where they are not wanted because they have a strong above- and below- ground stem system. Herbicides such as Vantage, Fusilade, or Roundup are effective, although straight edging with these materials is difficult. Most fine-textured turf bermudagrasses must be planted vegetatively using sod, sprigs, or plugs, but common bermudagrasses can be planted from seed. Bermudagrass performs best when mowed at ¾ to 1 inch with reel mower; however, good performance can be achieved using a rotary mower with sharp blades set as low as possible without scalping. Uneven terrain may prohibit bermudagrass from being mowed as short as desired.
Common bermudagrass (wiregrass), compared to hybrid bermudagrass (Tifway and Tifgreen), can be seeded and maintained at a higher mowing height. Common bermudagrass produces a more open lawn (more weed prone), has a wider leaf, is less cold tolerant, and exhibits more seedhead but requires less maintenance, Tifway (T-419) Tifway II are the best all-purpose hybrids for use in lawns, but they may require more frequent mowing and more fertilization than common bermudagrass. Both grasses are finer in leaf texture, are denser, and exhibit fewer seedheads than common bermudagrass, and they are pollen free. Midiron and Vamont are very aggressive, course-leafed, cold-tolerant cultivars that must be vegetatively planted. Tifgreen (T-328), Tifgreen II, and Tifdwarf require very intensive management and are not usually recommended for residential use. Guymon is a new, seeded, very course, cold-tolerant cultivar, similar to common bermudagrass in appearance. Little published information is available on the newest cultivar, Sahara.
Because of their aggressive nature, bermudagrasses have very few serious pest problems, but are subject to sting-nematode damage when grown in sandy soils. Nematode damage leads to shallow-rooted plants that do not respond to water and fertilizer, resulting in thin, weak areas invaded by weeds. If nematodes are suspected, submit a soil sample for analysis. (See Extension Service publication Diseases of Warm-Season Grasses, AG-360, for information on nematodes and diseases such as brown patch and spring dead spot, and Ornamental and Turf Insect Note No. 70, Insect Management in Turf for Insects that Feed on Bermudagrass.) Contact your county Extension Center for assistance.
Facts About Grass Clippings
The Grasscycling Concept
Leave grass clippings on the lawn! Grass clippings are 75 to 85 percent water and a good source of nutrients. When left on the lawn after mowing they quickly decompose and release nutrients. Through grasscycling, you can supply up to 25 percent of the lawn's yearly fertilizer needs, which means saving money and time. (And it means you do not have to rake and bag for hours.)
By following the management guidelines in this turf calendar and adding grasscycling to your routine, you will no longer need to bag clippings and your lawn will grow at an acceptable rate, retain a green color, ands develop a deeper root system.
For more information on grasscycling, contact your county Cooperative Extension Center.
Many pest problems can cause your turf to look bad --diseases, weeds, insects,, and animals. If you are really unlucky, you may have all of them at one time.
So what do you do? Use a pesticide? Or make changes in cultural practices? Both methods, and some others as well, may be needed. The balanced use of all available methods is called Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
The idea is simple. It involves the use of all available prevention and control methods to keep pests from reaching damaging levels. The goal is to produce a good turf and minimize the influence of pesticides on man, the environment, and turf.
IPM methods include:
Early detection and prevention, or both, will minimize pest damage, saving time, effort, and money. Should a problem occur, determine the cause or causes, then choose the safest, most effective control or controls available.
When chemical control is necessary, select the proper pesticide, follow label directions, and apply when the pest is susceptible. Treat only those areas in need. Regard pesticides as only one of many tools available for turf care.
To learn more about integrated pest management, pest identification, turf care, and proper use of pesticides, contact your county Cooperative Extension Center.
DISCLAIMER: Recommendations for the use of agricultural chemicals are included in this publication as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this publication does not imply endorsement by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use agricultural chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage regulations and examine a current product label before applying any chemical. For assistance, contact your county Cooperative Extension Service agent.