My beautiful overseeded lawn has turned brown over the last couple weeks. Do I need to apply a fungicide, insecticide, or is this normal?

It is not normal for your entire lawn to go brown at the same time. What you are seeing is the quick die off of the ryegrass. Normally we have a month to two month long gradual transition period and the ryegrass dies slowly and gives way to the bermudagrass or paspalum. This year we had a mild spring and then were blasted with a heat wave causing the ryegrass to shrivel up. If you have a small lawn, lightly rake up the dead material and give the warm season grass a place to grow or lightly verticut to remove the material. I posted a short video on how to verticut last week if you didn’t get a chance to watch it.

The dry, excessively hot weather is not a time when your lawn is prone to insect damage or fungus so there is no need to worry about these issues unless you are severely over-watering your lawn daily and when you look at it in the morning it has a whitish, pink cotton candy appearance on the leaf surface.

My lawn has been diagnosed with Pearl Scale, what can I do?

This is not my favorite question to answer because there really is no good answer for this situation. I have seen very little of Pearl Scale in lawns that I have checked, but I do come across it on occasion. If you are seeing half moon shaped burn out rings in your bermudagrass and your ryegrass was never affected, it is wise to take a look. The first check would be to make sure your irrigation heads are not leaving the pattern and if you can rule that out then I would check for the pearls. If you dig down into the soil you will see very tiny white pearls gathered around in an area and if you do I am sorry for what I am about to tell you. There is no currently known treatment for Pearl Scale but the insecticide Merit has been proven to semi help suppress it. This is not the answer long term but it can get you through a season so you can make an informed decision. The only way to treat this is to remove all the infected soil down to about 10-12 inches and replace it with new material. Speaking with a friend the other day he did say that you could reuse the soil if you removed it, spread it out and let it dry out over a week. Logistically this is going to be an issue unless you have one big area to store the material.

I have common bermudagrass coming through my new hybrid bermudagrass or paspalum, what can I do?

Again, this is a question with no good answer. The common bermudagrass has such a deep root system that even with several roundup applications prior to putting in your new lawn there will always be some roots that survive. If it is popping through your new lawn you can hand pick it, and try to remove as much as you can down to the roots. The major issue with the common bermudagrass is that the seed heads are viable and they are blown by the wind, walking on them, mowers, etc. There is no current chemical that will take care of this issue.

I am starting to see a lot of broadleafs and spurge popping up in my lawn, what can I use?

I suggest the Trimec or Super Trimec for eliminating these products. Most chemical companies sell their individual brand of these and what you are looking for in their product is to make sure they contain 2,4-D. This is the active ingredient that will knock out those weeds. Be careful about some products because they contain 2,4-D but they have such a low concentration of chemical that it will not do any damage.

I have a paspalum lawn and would like to try the rock salt and water solution on my weeds. What rate do I apply this at and will it kill every weed?

First of all let me explain why this works for paspalum and not for bermudagrass. Paspalums are the most salt tolerant grasses on the market and can tolerate heavy doses of sodium to the leafs as long as the soil does not build up an extreme amount of salts. To make this solution take a plant spray bottle and put in a half pound of salt and mix the rest with water. You will spray the weed heavily and this will take out some of your broadleafs. Obviously this will not touch nutsedge, common bermudagrass, Poa Annua, and some of the other nasty weeds out there.

The edges of my lawn always dry out the fastest, what can I do?

If you have rotary spray sprinklers or pop ups make sure your perimeters are open about 15-20 percent beyond the border to compensate for the wind.

I want to change my bermudagrass yard to a paspalum lawn; is there any special prep instructions?

The paspalum is a stronger grass than the bermudagrass and will choke it out as long as you keep your lawn healthy. You can always spray out your bermudagrass lawn with roundup a couple of times prior to switching grasses and remove it with a sod cutter.

I bought the Soil Burst fertilizers and I am not sure when to use each of them? Is there a certain schedule that needs to be followed?

The Soil Burst line is unique in that you cannot go wrong at any time of the year with any of them. Too often you will see fertilizer products at stores that are on discount or are in large supply so you think they must be a good fertilizer to use. Be very careful what you put down on your lawn and read the label. Most fertilizer companies market one single product for the whole country and they don’t change the ingredients to compensate for bermudagrass or paspalum. Keep in mind that only in the west and south do we see warm season grasses and the rest of the country uses cool season turf year round. The suppliers naturally cater their products to the cool season environments because that is their biggest clientele.

The Soil Burst Liquid Fertilizers can be used in the following ways.

16-0-4 “Green and Strong” – Just like the label says it provides your lawn a quick green up and supplies the proper amount of calcium and magnesium to give your lawn a seasonal boost. I like to use this about 4x per year and some of the best months to see reaction from it are November-March, June-August. I like these during the winter overseed months because the soil is too cold to take up a granular fertilizer and your ryegrass will have no reaction to one. In the summer they provide the essential nutrients during seasonal stress periods to maintain growth and color. Most people use a granular fertilizer such as the 5-15-10 as a starter in the spring and it will last till June before another fertilizer application is necessary.

7-7-7 – This can be used year round to provide your turf will a balanced nutrition from the shoots to the roots. Use this 4-5x per year and alternate it between the 16-0-4 and 4-0-6 to make sure your plant has the proper nutrition it needs to grow. Remember that calcium and magnesium are the catalysts for warm season growth so applications of this will jump start your grass during tough times. In the winter months this can be used monthly or alternated with the 16-0-4 depending how much color you are looking for in your lawn. The iron supplied in these products will not stain your walks, driveways, or stone so they are ideal are pool decks, flagstone, and concrete areas. Other iron products will cause significant damage to those areas.

4-0-6 – This is such a good product to help your help get through the summer stress periods such as now when we have no humidity. You are making an application that will have a direct affect on how deep your roots will grow. The deeper you get that root system, the better heat and wear tolerance you will have. Use this 3-4x per year to maintain plant vigor. This is excellent as the last application before we get a frost during the overseed season and your plants, vegetables, and flowers will also love it.

5-15-10 Granular – The granular Soil Burst was designed as a starter fertilizer to be put down with sod or seed but it has proven itself to be a great slow release fertilizer that can be used between April and November. I like to use it coming out of dormancy in the spring, once in the summer around July 1st, and once in the fall to put the grass to sleep properly. If you are using it for sod or seed simply put it down on the finish graded soil prior to seeding or sodding. During the overseed season this will be applied directly with your ryegrass to get it popping early.

My typical fertilizer schedule looks like this for my turf. If you keep your lawn dormant for the winter skip December-February applications:

January: 16-0-4
February: 7-7-7 followed by a 4-0-6 a week later if we expect cold weather.
March: Calcium Nitrate 15.5-0-0 or 16-0-4
April: Soil Burst 5-15-10@ 20 pounds per 1000 SF
May: 7-7-7
June: 16-0-4 followed by 4-0-6 a couple weeks before 110 degree days hit
July: Ammonium Sulfate 21-0-0 @ 5 pounds per 1000 SF to promote stolon growth followed by 4-0-6 for the roots a week later.
August: 7-7-7. I do not want a ton of excess growth if I will be overseeding so keeping the lawn healthy is more important.
September: 16-0-4 or 7-7-7 to keep bermudagrass growing a little and maintain color.
October: Soil Burst 5-15-10 with the ryegrass seed or to my paspalum to maintain fall color.
Mid October: 16-0-4 to push the ryegrass growth. Not applied for dormant turf.
November 1st – 7-7-7 to promote new ryegrass growth, balance the nutrients and provide lush color.
November 15th- 4-0-6 Applied right before first frost is expected to maintain plant vigor and so no color is lost during the freeze.
December – 7-7-7 or 16-0-4 for color and 4-0-6 if hard freezes are expected.

I have dry areas all over my lawn, some are grey blue, is there a fungus?

When you see these areas it is the first sign of drought stress. If you walk on your lawn and it leaves a footprint that does not bounce back up immediately your lawn is stressed. It is a good time to give it a quick spritz with the hose or if you will be running your normal watering cycle then it is time to apply water. These areas pop up randomly throughout the yard as the soil profile, mounding, or compaction is generally different throughout the yard. Set up small tuna cans or similar throughout the yard and check the output of your sprinklers to make sure each and every head is putting out the same amount of water. Make sure you have cans in the middle of the dry spots because most likely you are seeing poor coverage in these areas.

How many days a week do I need to water, should I water every day and how long?

A good watering schedule is every other day to every three days depending on your soil and grass type. It is not a good idea to water every day because you will never develop a root system and your lawn will fry during the summer months. Water deep and infrequently, and use around 1.25-1.5 inches of water per week at this time of the year. For most pop up sprinklers this can be done with 20-30 minutes of water every other day, and double that time with MP Rotors or similar sprinklers that put out low volumes of water. Obviously water pressure, number of sprinklers on each valve, soil type, temperature, humidity, and grass type all play a major role but this is the guidelines during the hot, dry season. Once we start to get some humidity in the air you will be able to back off the water because the plant will hold moisture longer.

Is the summer a bad time to put a new lawn in?

The summer is the absolute best time to put a new lawn in because bermudagrass and paspalum are adapted to the hot, humid, dry weather. They will root down twice as fast, and it will provide optimal weather for growth.

I have dog spots, weak areas, or dead spots where do I buy your seed?

There is no seed for a hybrid bermudagrass and any seed purchased is a common bermudagrass that will contaminate your lawn and eventually take over. For your weak areas or dog spots I would rake up the dead grass, fill them with sand spray often with the liquid product in those spots to promote lateral growth and fill it in.

My lawn is dying around my house, along the wall, and under the trees, what can I do?

Unfortunately there is not a warm season grass that has been designed to grow well in the shade besides St Augustine. If you get at least 4 hours of sunlight between 9 am and 3 pm you can grow BOBSod since it is the only bermudagrass with shade tolerance, but if you get less than that St Augustine is your only choice. Again don’t let anyone tell you there is a miracle grass for the shade because all living things needs sunlight and bermudagrass and paspalum are no exception. There are claims that grasses will do well in the shade but if you read the fine print it says that full sun is needed for 70 plus percent of the day.

I don’t want to mow grass or water it, is artificial turf a good choice for me?

No because we live in the southwest where it heats up to 160+ degrees in the summer months and you will burn your skin at anything over 130 degrees. I am pretty sure your pet or family doesn’t want to have to deal with that. Some of the other things to keep in mind are the bacteria build up, sprinklers are still necessary to cool the grass, leaves need to be blown off the synthetic turf a few times a week, and weeds can grow right up through it. So what are the advantages? Not sure, except a lot of promises for change but little have been changed since the days of Astroturf.

Ultra Running Blog

I don’t have a whole lot to report this week on my running as I continue prepping for my late summer races. The one update I did receive this week was the amount of snow still present in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. This is going to be interesting as I prepare for my race at the end of July with a predicted 80+ inches of snowpack still around. That is a little hard for me to comprehend since here in Arizona it was 114 yesterday. Some people say that is good heat training but I am not sure it really how that comes into play when you are traveling to Utah and South Dakota for races. I think the summer season will help me during my hundred mile race in South Dakota but will have little effect for Utah except I can complain about the heat while running and complain about the climbing when I am in Utah.

I have continued to maintain my 80-100 mile weeks in preparation for my hundred mile race but I have woke up several times lately thinking I am just plain nuts. Am I nuts because I just need to take a day off, or I am nuts for continuing on with this crazy fun sport. The problem is every time I am down on the mileage I find a new trail, read a book or article on ultras, get a pep talk from my coach, or meet up with a group to run I feel 100 percent and the pain magically disappears just like it does five minutes after a race has ended.

Anyone that has ever ran a race from a 5K to a 100M has said during the run that I will never, ever do this again only to see to do a complete 360 once the medal is placed around your neck or that buckle is handed to you as a reward. Running is not about the prizes or the honors but it mirrors the ups and downs in life. I can’t tell you yet how a hundred miles feels but I can tell you the range of emotions one goes through during a 50 mile race. We all battle demons during a race and its how you fight them off that matters in the end.

This past week I completed another 90+ mile week that was capped off by track on Tuesday, Squaw Peak on Wednesday, a 10 mile tempo workout on Thursday, 20 miles in the McDowell Mountains at 3am on Friday, 31 miles in the McDowell’s, on Saturday and what is suppose to be a nice restful 6 mile run on Sunday. We worked on our hill training this past weekend climbing Tom’s Thumb twice, east end, and Bell’s Pass for just under 6000 feet of climbing. It felt pretty good running these hills from 4-7am but the heat took its toll shortly after that and really put us in our place.

After reading that most people would think the 30+ mile Saturday was the hardest day but actually it’s that 6 mile Sunday. It seems so difficult to wrap my mind around running 6 miles as recovery. Not because it is a short distance, but because it just seems to hurt so bad and mentally you are constantly telling yourself it is just 6 miles so increase the speed a little. I have zero speed by a Sunday morning, and really all I want to do is take an ice bath and relax. Most of my workouts revolve around hill training, a couple days of speed training, and distance.

People that run ultras will tell you that it is not about miles, but about time on your feet when training. A roadrunner can usually run a 50K in 4 hours or under depending on the athlete, while you can expect it to take 5-7 hours to do a 50K ultra depending on the terrain. For my Utah race in the Wasatch mountains the average finish time of the 50K is 9 hours. 9 hours to run 30.8 miles should seem ridiculous because that is a 17.5 minute mile pace. I would like to see myself complete this race is 7-8 hours but you never know what you will encounter at 11,800 feet of elevation, 11,000+ feet of climbing, 11,000+ feet of descent, snow, a rocky trail, and sometimes a body that just doesn’t want to cooperate.

My training weeks have been to run 80-100 miles per week and incorporate 9-10,000 feet of climbing in during the week with 6-8,000 during my long day. I have a couple of long running days coming up this weekend so we are off to Flagstaff to get out of the heat, work on elevation and distance training. The craziest part of this is that even going to flagstaff to train will come nowhere near the elevation I will encounter next month in Utah. I may need to do a few Humphreys repeats in order to get ready for that.

I have begun writing a book of what I hope to be some good ultra stories and on my background of losing my Dad way too early in life to a pulmonary embolism, and how in a year and half I started running for the first time in my life, lost 100 pounds, and I have currently run 467 consecutive days with at least 4 miles and completed almost 3600 miles last year. My life has drastically changed during this time and that is why I like to share my stories with everyone as a type of therapy for myself. I am not an experienced writer so I am taking my time, sharing a few stories with you along the way and hopefully I can complete a first draft by later this year. I had to put this down on paper somewhere to get me motivated to write again as I have taken a few weeks off to just concentrate on my training during my down time from work.

Let me know if you find my stories interesting or if I should halt my progress on the book now and find another hobby. Have a good week and I would love to hear the feedback.