Your lawn needs help to recover from 2016 weather

Get it Growing with Kenny Sharpe

Get it Growing with Kenny Sharpe

It was a rough year for lawns; our average rainfall was in excess of 80 inches last year. We had a spring flood for some and an August flood for many. In addition, there was the tropical sod webworm invasion about the time of the August flood that lasted way into the fall.
Those were the natural occurring problems, and then there was all of the debris that was piled up in lawns for weeks, and in some cases months, that killed lawn grasses. To add insult to injury, this spring I have seen a lot of brown patch which is a fungal grass disease.
The net result is a lot of lawns that could use some help. What I would do now is make sure you have the best maintenance program for your lawn that you can. That will include eliminating weeds and favoring grass growth.
First, let’s try to get a handle on the weeds. There are a lot of weeds that are a direct result of losing a thick lush lawn. Dollar weed is very prevalent and I have also seen a bumper crop of spurweed, which many of you know as stickers.
There are several options for control and several application methods. Since it has been so warm early and we are in April, you could perform both weed control and fertilization in one step by using a Weed and Feed. The chemicals that I like for difficult weeds like dollar weed and most of the other broadleaf weeds in warm season southern grasses are a blend of 2,4-D and atrazine. You can find one or the other in a weed and feed which will work fine. I would suggest that maybe a weed and feed with atrazine applied to the lawn and then watered in.
As soon as the grass is dry or the next day, spray one of the 2,4-D blends on the lawn according to directions. Some popular choices of 2,4-D blends would include Weed-B-Gon, Weed Free Zone, Bayer Advanced Southern Weed Killer, Green Light Wipeout and Trimec.
The other method of weed control would be to mix atrazine and one of the 2,4-D blends together in a spray tank and apply it to the lawn. It is important that you make all of these herbicide applications of Trimec prior to temperatures of 90˚F. I would typically say not to spray after the end of May, but it could be earlier this year. If you spray in hot weather the herbicides will damage lawn grasses way beyond acceptable.
It is always important to calibrate your sprays but when you mix these two herbicides together your margin for error is smaller. Rates are given as the amount of chemical per 1000 ft² of lawn area. Spray plain water on your driveway or sidewalk over an area of 1000 ft² and figure out how much water is required to cover the 1000 ft² area. Now fill your tank with that much water and add the rate for 1000 ft² and you will be correctly calibrated.
You will want to get growing the grass that you have left as quickly as possible to help it spread and eliminate bare spots where more weeds can germinate. Apply 7 pounds of 8-8-8 or 4 pounds of 13-13-13 per 1000 ft² if you did not use a weed and feed. Apply fertilizer to a dry lawn and then water it in. You can fertilize first and then apply weed control to make it easy and not wash off any herbicides.
I like to wait about 14 days before cutting the grass after a herbicide treatment this time of the year. Grass is growing slow enough that it should not cause you a problem. When you cut the grass, leave your mowing height Get It Growing, pg 52
Get It Growing: pg.50
high enough that you are not scalping the lawn. I like to cut a third of the grass height when mowing and leave two-thirds. Maintain centipede, carpet and zoysia at 2 inches and St. Augustine at 3 inches. If St. Augustine is in shade, go to 4 inches.
This should get you started towards reviving your lawn.

Kenny Sharpe is the LSUAgCenter county agent for Livingston Parish. For more information on these or related topics contact Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit our website at www.lsuagcenter.com/livingston.