As we move through the dog days of summer in California and Arizona, now is a good time to evaluate your turfgrass lawn. The summer is the optimal time to grow warm season turfgrasses so it is important to get good growth before the end of the season. The golden rule is that all warm season grasses need to have 100 days of growing without any competition in order to maintain their health. That is 100 days without any lingering ryegrass in the way. Think back to when the ryegrass was completely out of your lawn? Was it June or did it hang around until July? If you didn’t transition it by mowing lower and verticutting then most likely you still had some ryegrass until the humidity increased and wiped it out in July.

It’s important to figure out approximately how long your ryegrass lasted so you can get a projected overseed date for the fall. If you still had ryegrass in July you will not be ready to overseed until the second week of October. Why should you be worried about this when it’s 105 degrees outside? You want to get the most out of your summer lawn so take advantage of the heat and humidity to get any weak areas to fill in and to strengthen your root system. Warm season turfgrasses thrive when it’s hot and humid so a little fertilizer will go a long ways to improving your current lawn. At this time of the year you can really benefit by putting down ammonium sulfate 21-0-0 at 5 pounds per 1000 SF to promote growth. If you plan on overseeding in September you’re not looking to promote growth so you would want to strengthen the root system. A great product for your roots is 0-0-50 or even sticking with 21-7-14 will help benefit your lawn. Remember that the third number on the fertilizer bag is potassium and this is what promotes plant strength.

It seems really odd to even throw the word overseed out in August but it won’t be long and people will start talking about it. My hope is that most of you won’t even consider overseeding until October but I realize there are always circumstances that don’t make this possible. For those that will be overseeding in September if you haven’t had 100 days of growth you should expect to see some turf loss in the spring. If you’ve been battling with large dirt spots all summer you know what I’m talking about. So how do you prevent this if you have to overseed early? The best approach is to lightly verticut the plant to open up the grass. The key to overseeding is being able to get your seed inside the grass plant, not scalping your lawn. Verticutting now will help remove the dead thatch, organic matter, and dead grass that have built up over the summer months. Since the earliest you will be overseeding would be the middle of September you have 4-5 weeks to get new turfgrass plants to grow and fill in this space. If you don’t ever clean out your lawn it will continue to develop a large thatch layer and seeding and transition will get more difficult each year.

Let’s go back to those that will be waiting until October to overseed their lawns. You, too, want to verticut the lawn and clean it up. Give your lawn a chance to recover by removing some of the dead material and allowing new leafs to fill in the voids. New growth is essential to the health of your lawn.

Here is a short video on how to verticut.

Once your lawn has been verticut it will dry out slightly quicker for the first week as it tries to fight off the stress. Simply increase your water for a week and it will be as good as new in a week. If you’re battling voids in your lawn it is a good time to increase your fertilizer to 1 pound of nitrogen every other week. Your lawn will take full advantage of the little bit of extra fertilizer and monsoonal moisture. If your lawn is growing well and you’re getting a good amount of clippings you should stick to 1 pound of nitrogen per month. If you have a paspalum lawn you need very little nitrogen at this time of the year so a slow product such as Milorganite or Soil Burst 5-15-10 will produce excellent results.

Remember there is a lot of moisture in the air right now so you shouldn’t be watering as much as you did during June. The grass plant will maintain a higher concentration of water in the leaves at this time of the year so back off your water accordingly. I will continue to talk about overseeding in the coming weeks but don’t get too anxious. It’s too hot and will be for the next month and a half so let your lawn grow!

If you have any questions, please hit the “ask Jay” button on the top right of this page.

Until next time, Jay

PS…..  We are pretty excited about the new Levi’s Stadium.  Not sure what happened to the 49ers, but it was an exciting debut of our Bandera Bermuda!

Bandera Bermuda sod at Levi's Stadium

Bandera Bermuda sod at Levi’s Stadium

We are also in baseball mode with West Coast Turf on the field for the Oakland A’s, LA Angeles of Anaheim, Dodgers, Padres, D-backs, and Giants!  We’d love to see a World Series on our field again!