I’ve received a lot of questions from paspalum growers who are chomping at the bit to get out there and fertilize their lawn, but let’s remember why you bought this grass.  This is a grass that likes low nitrogen and thrives off micro nutrients such as manganese, zinc, and iron.  The summer stress period brings on different animals for every grass and each grass has its way of fighting them off.  This blog will touch on the cultural techniques you can do at home to keep your paspalum strong, deep green in color, and keep costs down.  Just as is the case with all grasses, a healthy lawn is the best defense for any potential problems out there.

I have spoken several times before about the low nitrogen requirements of paspalum and I will hit it one more time in this blog because most people generally think lack of color is associated with a nitrogen deficiency.  While it is possible and can be possible in paspalum there is no need for any nitrogen right now with the extreme heat that we are experiencing in Arizona (and the cloud cover that much of southern California experiences) during July and August.  It has enough in the root storage to last through the season and can tolerate the use of just micronutrients. 

A lot of people are asking what kind of fertilizer to buy and what I have been telling them is to find a good queen palm tree fertilizer and sprinkle it on the lawn at about 1-2 pounds per 1000 SF.  Surprisingly this mix is packed with all of the good nutrients that paspalum thrives off of.  As we get into the fall there will be some more options to use for fertilizer such as milorganite, extreme granular by “The Garden Guy” (www.thegardenguy.com), and West Coast Turf will have a mix out soon. 

Those of us in Arizona and probably some parts of California that have experienced some increases in humidity have noticed that the paspalum needs less water than it did during the drier months.  It is important to keep an eye not just on the grass, but check your soil moisture level so you know when and how deep to water your lawn.  Grass feels the same summer stresses that our bodies feel and certain cultural practices are necessary to fight off infection. 

Here are some noteworthy things to keep in mind to help you get through the summer.  These can be adapted to bermudagrass as well but are very important for paspalum to thrive: 

1)      Maintain a healthy turf root system by using aeration in the spring and fall.  This will help reduce compaction and get oxygen to the roots.  Since paspalum is a root grown grass all its energy is sent to the roots for any re-growth. 

2)      Use frequent potassium applications during the summer.  Some good potassium products are 0-0-22, 0-0-50, 6-20-20.  As you can see all three of these products have little to no nitrogen.

3)      Avoid excess nitrogen (no more than 2-3 pounds per 1000 SF per year)

4)      Reduce traffic stress on the turf by staying off compacted areas

5)      Maintain proper irrigation scheduling by watering deep and infrequent

6)      Keep your micronutrients in balance (manganese, iron, zinc).  These can be applied monthly with granular fertilizers to keep good color during the year.

Just as with any grass there can be disease or insect damage, but the amount of cases are very low and generally limited to areas that have been over managed by using excess fertilizer and water.  I am not going to go into great detail as to what one can get in their lawn, but I’ll tell you that if you follow the 6 steps I laid out for you, there are very few pathogens that have a fighting chance against your lawn.  If you see anything that you are unsure of be sure to send me some pictures and we will get you back on track. 

****Tip of the week:  Keep your potassium levels on the higher end to maintain plant strength and fight off summer stresses.  Remember that potassium is the last number on the bag of fertilizer.  Don’t get carried away, but keep a balanced level as potassium helps you maintain a good root system and recover from injury. 

Since I do receive a lot of questions every week it is important for me to know all the details so I can give you the best advice.  If you have put down a product that may have caused harm to your turf, you have a dog, you over-fertilize or water please let me know so I can get it straightened out.  I receive a lot of emails that start by saying I did everything right and now my lawn is dead, what do I do?  This is a very tough question to answer and it doesn’t give me any place to go, so don’t be afraid to tell me what is actually going on with your lawn……really!

Please see my past blogs for info on how to keep your grass looking its best.

Until next time,