Our 4 weeks of spring are coming to an end as the forecast appears to be touching close to 100 degrees for the next week.  I am being hopeful when I say that it is only for the next week, but most likely the cooler weather is behind us, the soil temperature is going to rise quickly.  It will be bermuda/paspalum season before we know it. 

The soil temperature is still hovering right around 60 degrees so we have not seen an excessive amount of growth with our warm season grasses, but I am sure most people are starting to see their lawns green up quickly.  If you did not overseed this past year and your lawn is a little behind on color the answer is fertilizer.  The Soil Burst starter 5-15-10 is your answer because we are looking to warm up the soil and using this dark pelletized granular will get you going in the right direction.  The magnesium, calcium, and iron will give your lawn a great kick start and get it ready for the growing season as it begins to arrive.  The nice part of using a slow release product like this is that you can expect to receive 4-6 weeks of results. 

About two weeks ago I had told you to set your irrigation to run 2x per week and 3x if absolutely needed and now as we begin the transition process it is more important to keep a healthy root system.  Your warm season grass is now competing with the ryegrass for water so a little more water is being used by the plant but be careful not to get carried away with the water.  You are trying to slowly fade out the ryegrass without cutting off the water to your warm season turf, so the best way to handle this is to water about 30 percent less than normal and spot water as necessary. 

You want to use between 1” and 1 ½” of water per week in the summer months and that can be broken up into 3-4 days depending on your soil type.  During this time of the year you want to use 70 percent of that amount so your bermudagrass/paspalum thrives and the ryegrass begins to choke itself out.  Over a couple weeks of this practice, lower mowing heights, and opening up the turf canopy with a verticutter you will transition very quickly.  It does not take much for your warm season grass to take off and begin to grow but if you have too healthy of ryegrass you are putting the equivalent of a shade canopy over the turf. 

I have been emailed the question several times in the last month regarding verticutting versus dethatching and they are completely different.  Verticutting is a machine that looks very similar to a lawn mower and uses vertical blades to help thin out the turf canopy.  You set this machine to run through the grass leaf tissue and it never affects the root system.  Thinning out the turf canopy allows light in, helps the grass use less water, and most of all it gives your grass new growing points. 

I am sure everyone has had stolons (runners) appear on the driveway, in rock beds, or as you may be seeing right now on the grass surface.  When you cut these stolons it gives the grass additional growing points and establishes a new plant.  If you have ever asked yourself how we grow our grasses without having seed, stolons are the answer.  Our grass fields were originally shot with hybrid stolons and over the course of 90 days you will get a full grow in on bare soil.  This is probably one of the most difficult ways to grow grass so I never advise it unless you have all day to watch and adjust your watering.  They require constant moisture with 6-10 cycles per day but if you flood them it causes other problems.  Try and avoid using them for a grow in unless you really are looking for a good summer project or if your retired and there is nothing better to do.  I have been on several golf courses grown in from stolons that have had tremendous success and I have been on my share that have struggled so they are best left to people in the turf industry.  With all that being said I still advocate using some of the material from verticutting to fill in dog spots, weak areas, or damaged turf.  If you choose to go this route the best way to get these to grow is by hand watering them several times a day until they root down.  You obviously don’t want to turn on your irrigation system to hit little spots so if you have kids home for the summer you can tell them there job is to hand water the stolons.  That will give them something to do on a hot day. 

Now dethatching is the process of removing excess built up organic matter.  This machine digs into the turf and does pull up roots as you operate the machine.  It is never a good idea to set this machine to go that deep into the soil, but I have seen it so many times I cannot count them.  Dethatching should be done during the summer months when the grass is actively growing and when you have an extreme spongy feel to your turf.  This is something that should be done every few years but verticutting should be done a couple times per year.  For a point of reference you may see a Ren O Thin and that is a verticutter, while a power rake dethatches your lawn.

If your lawn starting to resemble the picture I have below and it is making you a little nervous, don’t be, as this is a normal period of transition.  That nice yellow to brown tinge that you see on the surface is the ryegrass starting to die off and it is important to get that material out of the way and provide the light for your warm season grass down below. 


If you’re not going through transition and your turf is coming out of dormancy most of the same rules that I have stated above apply.  You should be putting down the Soil Burst Starter Fertilizer 5-15-10, watering 1-1.5 inches per week, and if your lawn has a lot of winter damaged or spongy turf between the green grass blades then do a little verticutting.  Most non overseeded turfs are about a 6-7 out of 10 in color at this time of the year so don’t be discouraged if you are not seeing a perfectly green lawn.  The warm season turfs begin to really grow when soil temperatures reach 64 degrees and until then don’t get overly concerned if you haven’t got to test out the new John Deere mower yet.  Those days are coming soon enough so save the anxiety. 

Now if you have a paspalum lawn that was not overseeded you are enjoying the benefits of a lush green lawn right now and seeing why you choose not to overseed this past winter. 


 I also posted this picture so everyone could see that it is very normal to get different hot spots on your lawn and that they are not damaging to the turf.  Often times when you have pop up sprinklers or areas that do not get head to head coverage you will see areas dry out faster than others.  For these spots it is best to try and fix the irrigation if possible but also just hand water them a couple times per week.  There is no need to waste the water and turn on everything because it inevitably is not getting enough water to those spots.  Hitting them with a hose during the late afternoon to cool them down will help and you also may need to look at aerifying those spots with a pitchfork to get better water infiltration.  I see these spots most often with homeowners that have pop up type sprinklers that shoot directly over the spot right in front of the irrigation head.  This is very normal but you should have a sprinkler that covers that spot from another direction so you are getting full head to head coverage.  Your edges will also be the first area to dry out so open up the sprinklers to compensate for the wind by 10-20 percent.  If you are watering first thing in the morning you will not have many wind issues so this step can be avoided.

 Enjoy the transition process and keep calm as we all go through this rough period.  If you stay on top of your grass and keep an eye on the irrigation you will make this a seamless process. 

Where can you buy the Soil Burst products? 

For years we have been using specially formulated Soil Burst fertilizers to grow and maintain our sod farms, and now they are available for homeowners, sports fields, golf courses and landscapes. You can have the same professional products we use to make our sod strong, green, and healthy out at the farm.  We use natural ingredients and essential nutrients resulting in a complete, balanced fertilizer to ensure you can keep your lawn looking as good as a big league field or your favorite golf course.  Your flowers, plants, and trees will also greatly benefit from using Soil Burst fertilizers.  They are available in easy to use, convenient, homeowner sized containers that do not cost a fortune. 

Here is a list of stores that are carrying the product and you can also purchase it online from our website at www.westernsod.com and have them shipped right to your door.  If you have questions about individual  products email me your questions and I will help you out. 

Arties Ace Hardware

13636 N. Tatum Blvd

Phoenix, AZ 85032

Tatum and Greenway


Sprinkler World

2114 E. Indian School Rd

Phoenix, AZ 85016

21st Street and Indian School


Sprinkler World

1925 W. Rose Garden Lane

Phoenix, AZ 85027

19th Ave and Deer Valley


Sprinkler World

17826 N. Tatum Blvd

Phoenix, AZ 85032

Tatum/Groovers (just south of Bell)


Sprinkler World

3164 S. Country Club Dr

Mesa, AZ 85210 


Sprinkler World

16700 N. 51st Ave

Glendale, AZ 85306

51st Ave and Bell


Sprinkler World

1001 N. Jackrabbit Trail

Buckeye, AZ 85326

I-10 and Jackrabbit


Sprinkler World (Tucson)

225 E. Fort Lowell

Tucson, AZ 85705


Until next time–happy transitioning!  Jay