As we begin the month of November (and we are about 4-5 weeks into the overseed season) it’s time to make sure your lawn is ready for the winter.  Winterizing your lawn with overseeded turf is quite different than getting it ready to go dormant for the winter.  We have been blessed with some warm temperatures so far this fall keeping our non overseeded turf green, but as temperatures move into the 50’s at night you will start to see a sudden decline in non-overseeded turf growth. 

One of the best ways to keep color a little longer into the fall is to fertilize with a dark pelletized fertilizer and gradually take your mowing heights down to help keep the heat in the grass plant.  The longer you keep your grass in the winter the easier it is for frost to get inside the plant and will cause a quicker loss of color.  If you have paspalum you can expect that you will get about 4 weeks more of color than someone with bermudagrass, and now is a great time to get a product down like Soil Burst or Milorganite. 

I am sure those that have tried the paspalum are amazed right now to have a dark green non-overseeded lawn in early November.   You should be watering no more than two days per week regardless of what type of lawn you have and as temperatures begin to drop even further so should your watering schedule.  As we get later into the fall and get a few frosts on the ground one watering per week is sufficient and then when your lawn is completely dormant one watering per month will suffice. 

If you have an overseeded lawn you are currently seeing a flush of growth, but don’t let that keep you from giving your lawn a little extra fertilizer before that first frost hits.  You should be on your third round of fertilizer right now and some good ones are 15-15-15, 16-20-0, 21-7-14, or Soil Burst.  You want to maintain a healthy root system and have good shoot growth before it is slowed down due to cool soil temperatures.  Your current watering schedule for overseeded turf should be no more than 3 times per week if the lawn has been down for a month and most likely you can get away with two watering per week.  I know we have had a few days in the high 80’s lately (and if we get more in the next week you may need a third day), but gradually back the water off and develop the cold hardiness for your lawn. 

Let’s talk about the mowing heights of the ryegrass–and this is all dependent upon personal preference –because you can maintain your lawn as low as ¼” and as long as 2”.  Your lawn will hold off frost a little better with the lower mowing heights and will help maintain extra heat in the grass.  When you start to lose some of that fresh ryegrass color after a hard frost, don’t be afraid to put down a foliar application of iron or manganese.  You can find these from several different distributors from most of your local nurseries. 

I have been asked quite a few times in the last few weeks about reseeding stubborn areas that just don’t seem to want to come up.  Ryegrass has a very high percentage of seed that typically germinates and when it doesn’t it is usually a result of not getting down into the ground.  If you just scalped your lawn and dropped the seed right over top it has no way to work itself down into the thatch and get a growing medium.  You can take a thatch rake right now and go over the weak areas and then reseed or if you have large areas it is still okay to lightly verticut the lawn and drop seed again.  Since 90 percent of your lawn is already established you don’t want to overwater the entire lawn so try and either hand water the newly seeded areas or just give those zones a couple quick shots of water during the day.  The seed will germinate a little slower than normal but it is better than wasting hundreds of dollars on your water bill for a small spot.  You do not need to repeat the starter fertilizer application, but you can hit the newly seeded areas with your second or third round of fertilizer when you do it to the whole lawn. 

If you have a newly seeded lawn and you have a dog or two like me you will notice how quickly the ryegrass is injured from urine on the lawn.  One of the best ways to reduce the damage is to make sure you flush the lawn with a little extra water every couple of weeks or just hit the areas with a hose at the end of the day.  Sometimes the easiest technique is to go out with dog and just hit it with a hose afterwards.  Now if that is not an option and you are already seeing turf injury make up a sand and seed mix and fill the burned out area just like a golf course would do with a divot.  The seed will germinate from your regular watering cycle, but if you want to speed up the process hand water the areas a couple times a day till the seed pops.  You can also mix a little bit of mulch or a dark pelletized fertilizer in there to help trap extra heat and get the grass a chance to grow quicker. 

Since you are a month into the overseed season it is also a good time to check your irrigation clock, sprinklers, and valves to make sure that everything is running properly.  It is very easy to get small rocks stuck in the valves causing tiny leaks in the valve box, or broken sprinkler nozzles from the lawn mower hitting the shorter grass.  Turn on each station for a couple minutes and check to make sure you are getting even coverage,  good sprinkler output, and that you don’t have too much over spray in non lawn areas.  If you have a couple broken nozzles they are easy enough to change out and if the valve has a rock or two stuck in it you will have to take the set screws out of the top of the valve and change out the diaphragm inside.  This is an easy fix and usually they need to be changed out once a year because rocks get inside and don’t allow the valves to close completely which results in small leaks.

Send me your turf questions and if you are having some issues let me know and I will get you the answers you are looking for.


College Football Week 9

The season is flying by right now and the BCS is starting to go in chaos mode like it always does about this time of the year.  You can flip on any radio station and we will hear the BCS apologists say that the current system of picking a National Champion will work itself out and the Bowl system is what is best for the schools.  I have always been a huge proponent of a playoff system and think it is just a matter of time before we see one implemented.  In the mean time we all get to share our two cents about the title picture and what is going on in the game so let me give a quick recap of last weekend and what I see happening this weekend.  There are some great games on the schedule and two of them will go a long ways to determining who will get a shot at the title game.

Starting in the Big 10 where I think we all saw Michigan State being exposed by Iowa, but no one would have thought it would be quite that bad.  There BCS Bowl hopes are still alive if they can win out and get Ohio State and Wisconsin to drop another game.  They may finish the season in a three way tie for first place but because of their low BCS ranking it would give the Rose Bowl berth to OSU or Wisconsin.  If only two of them finish a top of the Big Ten the Rose Bowl will usually select the team that has not played in the game most recently. 

Michigan has proven itself to be a offensive juggernaut with a defense that ranks 119 out of 120th in the nation.  I have been a proponent of giving Rich Rod another year since he is starting to get things going but with the small players he continues to recruit on defense I think he is most likely looking at the door.  I would expect Michigan to take another run at Les Miles since LSU fans would like to see the Mad Hatter gone but I wouldn’t be surprised if Jim Harbaugh is the next coach.  From a fans perspective it would be tough to sit through more rebuilding if Harbaugh came in because there would need to be a completely different type of athlete required to fit his schemes while Miles could work with what is there until he gets more of his type of players in.

Auburn proved that they belong at the top of the SEC but let’s not overlook the Iron Bowl in a couple of weeks versus Nick Saban and the Tide.  I don’t see them being able to run former Heisman trophy candidate Cam Newton all over the field versus that Alabama defense.  The rest of the SEC is pretty mediocre this year and I don’t see any surprises besides that LSU has hung on to get a couple of good wins this season.

PAC-10 country is a buzz this weekend for the Arizona versus Stanford game.  Yes I did just say that because the winner is staring down at the Rose Bowl since Oregon is marching their way down the field and straight to Glendale with their high flying offense.  They did left the Trojans hang in the game for three quarters last weekend, but the lack of good scholarship players has started to take its toll.  Oregon lit up the USC defense in the second half and as I flipped between the Michigan vs. Penn State game and the USC and Oregon game last Saturday night I couldn’t help but notice that it was like watching the same game on a different channel.  Both teams have to score every time they have the ball on offense because we all know that the defenses are giving up a TD every time they see the field.  It took 3 quarters for Michigan to even get Penn State to punt the ball.  AHHHHHHHHH. 

I won’t spend much time on the Sun Devils except to say that how can you lose 52-10 one week and then win 42-0 the next week.  I think it is time to look for a new head coach. 

Big 12 has been semi impressive in the last couple of weeks with the Huskers leading the charge but if you are a fan of them you must be saying to yourselves that you could be playing in the real game in Glendale in January if you hadn’t lost to a horrible Texas team that was out shined by Baylor last weekend.  Yes I said the Baylor Bears.  Ouch.  We will see you in Glendale with all of your crazy fans but unfortunately it looks like your opponent will be BCS buster Boise St.

Here are my picks for this week and if you are following or just started following my blog I think it is time to jump on the bandwagon and start using my picks in Vegas.  Last week I went 4-1 and with a 5-1 record the week before it brings my season update to 14-7.  Not bad for a guy that studied turfgrass in college. 

TCU at Utah – Sorry Utes but even at home you do not have enough to put the brakes on a great TCU team and my crystal ball sees this being a lop sided game.  Take TCU and give Utah the 4.5.

Michigan versus Illinois – Michigan is playing at home at has another year of probation and 3 straight losses hanging over their heads but I see them responding with a big win this weekend.   Take Michigan and don’t be afraid to give Illinois the 1.5 points. 

Nebraska at Iowa State – Yawn, but since WCT has a few Husker fans I thought I would throw it in.  Nebraska’s QB will be back and ready to play this weekend but I wouldn’t give up the 17.5 points.  Take the Huskers on the field or take Iowa State and the points. 

USC @ ASU – This is going to be a one sided game because I don’t see Steven Threet getting it going. Despite that the Devils need to win 3 of their last 4 to become bowl eligible, I see them laying down versus the Trojans weekend and looking forward for the season to be over so they can hang out on Mill Ave.  Take USC giving the 7.

Bama @ LSU – Sorry LSU but this is not going to be your day and this game is just a formality before the Tide rolls its way into the game versus Auburn in a couple weeks.  I like Bama giving the 6 to the Tigers. 

Ultra Run #2 Update

Despite my Wolverines getting crushed last weekend I had a good weekend because I pulled off my first win in the Ultra Marathon series.  This was a race that I set out to win, I actually was just looking to be competitive but apparently it was my day.  I was in second place for the first 27 miles of the race before finally getting up enough energy to overtake the leader and run the last 5 miles to bring home the trophy.  I was able to complete the 32 miles of the Overton/John Trail in Cave Creek in 6 hours and 5 minutes holding off my competition at the end to win.  Not bad for my first ever 50K race and second race of my life.  I am loving the trail ultra’s and will be competing in another 50K next weekend at Usery Pass Mountain in Mesa. 

Have a great weekend!