Well I haven’t written a blog in a while since everything is normally status quo after overseed until we start to peak into late November. Since most people overseed their lawns for the winter I will touch on that today and give just some brief directions to those that do not overseed as far as water, fertilizer for the winter months but nothing major. The average household drops their overseed around October 1st each year so usually around the 6-8 week mark is when the grass starts to show its first signs of stress. If you followed my previous overseed directions and put down all three applications of fertilizers this will not apply to you because you will be the one with bright green lawn in the pictures above. Now that December is fast approaching and we are certain to get some hard freezes in the next few weeks how do you prevent your lawn from turning that oh so pretty lime green/yellow color that I often see around town?

Yellow Lawns

Some people feel that having a yellow lawn is inevitable once we start to get cold but then how is it possible that the golf courses, resorts, and many homeowners are able to keep their beautiful color all winter? They have learned over careful trials that the granular fertilizers just don’t react well in the soil during the winter months to green up a lawn and you are throwing your money away on high nitrogen products during the winter months. The winter months are all about spoon feeding and applying the appropriate nutrients to allow your grass to grow. I am not saying that no granular will work but outside of putting down a starter fertilizer under new sod there is not one that I would use from November-March to try and increase growth. I am a huge proponent of finding the right combination of fertilizers that are cost effective and will do their job. At this time of the year the Soil Burst products are extremely effective for helping get growth and color when it is cold outside. Did you know that Zinc and Magnesium are essential for a grass plant to maintain color, not just nitrogen and iron? Not all foliar products are created equal as some are just straight nitrogen, iron, or a combo of N-P-K but are they the right blend? Just because a product is a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 it doesn’t mean it is right for your lawn and that’s why there are three different types of Soil Burst products. (16-0-4, 7-7-7, and 4-0-6) You could buy just one of the Soil Burst products and effectively get color but to maintain plant health I recommend spraying with one of the three products monthly. We are talking about a total of $45 to treat your lawn for the winter and keep it green or you can buy three bags of granular fertilizer at $20/each and wait for the excessive growth in March when the soil warms up. Golf Courses, Resorts, our sod farms all use a program and through soil testing, tissue analysis and other studies they determine exactly what nutrients are necessary to keep the grass in tip top shape from the roots to the shoots.

This is what your lawn should look like at this time of the year but what do you do if you already have a yellow lawn? Is it too late to try and fix the issue? No way, it is only going to get worse as the temperatures drop so it is time to get out there and spray the lawn. It takes about ten minutes to spray 1000 SF of lawn and all you need to do is hook up the easy to use applicator (comes with the product) to your garden hose and spray in a figure 8 pattern over the entire lawn as evenly as possible. If you decide to just use a straight iron product such as Ironite be careful since it will stain your walks, patios, and anything it touches. The three Soil Burst products contain Iron but they are all completely non-staining so a little overlap onto the walks is not going to be problematic. There are lots of options out there and I just want you to know what we are using for the grass that is sent out to you in the the form of sod. If you are using other products make sure you check the labels to see how they compare.

Dog Spots

If you are like me then you have a pet that wouldn’t dare pee on the bushes but loves to pee in the lush green grass causing the nice little yellow spots all over the lawn. I treat these areas just like a divot on a tee box at a golf course by removing the dead material above and mixing up some BOBSeed ryegrass and sand and pouring it into the divot. These areas don’t need extra water to grow but with your normal watering cycles they will fill in over time. The seed won’t pop as quickly as it did in October but be patient and the areas will fill in and don’t worry your dog will find another beautiful piece of grass to kill in the meantime.

Watering during the winter

Most people have established their ryegrass pretty well at this point and the roots are starting to spread out making the grass plant stronger so it is a perfect time to really cut back on the water. From November-February you can get away with watering 2-3x per week for 20-25 minutes each cycle. If you already have a compacted soil surface and with the colder ground temperatures water isn’t infiltrating the soil you should have someone come over and aerify the lawn. You can aerify the lawn year round and there is no reason that you need to fill in the holes, just let the air into the plant. If you have an extremely compacted soil it would be great to get some deeper tines put in the ground but they are not always available so to help alleviate the problem this often needs to be done a couple of times in a six month period to really help. I always recommend aerifying your lawn every 1-2 years and more often when the grass is dying from the compacted earth. Here is a picture of a compacted lawn that resulted in a poor overseed.

If you have a non overseeded lawn you need to water about once per month through the winter for around 60-90 minutes to help keep moisture in the ground. If we receive timely rains then this step is often unnecessary and you can get away with leaving your irrigation clock off all season long. There is no need to fertilize during the winter and your last application of the Soil Burst 4-0-6 can be applied anytime before we get our first frost to help the root structure during the winter months.

I thought I would keep it short and simple today and as I see more issues arise I will address areas of concern. If you have questions please email them to me at info@westernsod.com and you can also attach pictures to this if there is something you would like me to look at. You can find the Soil Burst products at several Ace Hardware stores and Sprinkler World locations. Look for the bottle above and rememner there are three formulations. (16-0-4, 7-7-7, and 4-0-6) If you are missing my running blog updates you can check out the site at www.mcdowellmountainman.com and read about how I did a few weeks ago during my last hundred miler in Fountain Hills, AZ.