As the weekend draws closer my nerves are starting to rise and it’s not because it is time almost time to overseed your lawn (but we’ll discuss that!) or that another Division II school is coming to Ann Arbor to embarrass my Wolverines (we’ll talk about that, too!).  This weekend I will be running in my first “Ultra Marathon” and the goal is to complete 46.2 miles (75K).  

I have been training to run a race like this for months by getting up every morning at 3:30 and heading out to the McDowell Mountains in Arizona to get in 50-75 miles per week, but even with that I still have to say that I feel a little nervous.  It might have a little to do with the fact that I am a morning person that goes to bed every night at 8 pm and now I am competing in a 75K run that doesn’t start until 6pm Saturday night.  While this is convenient for my football viewing, it will definitely make for a hot run Saturday night as it appears temperatures will be around 103 degrees.  I am confident that I will finish the race in the early hours on Sunday morning, but I can’t help but think I am crazy because my longest previous race was a 5K and now I have entered a 75K with the possibility of doing a 100K if my body holds up.  The 100K seems a little out of reach at the moment, but I have not put it out of my head yet as a possibility.  Anyway,  I will get off my soapbox and back to the reason everyone is reading the blog and that is to learn what to do with your lawn and what is going on in the world of college football!

I want to touch a little more on overseeding this week as well as tell you what you can do if you decide not to overseed your lawn…..

As I said earlier, the temperature this weekend appears to be heading for the low 100’s and we have set record temperatures all week hardly giving anyone a chance to get out there and start the overseed process.  The overseed process is not complex, but it is important to follow the details that I laid out last week to make sure it is done right.  If you have all those directions down and your seed has been picked up from the store, it’s now about the prep work.

You can begin the prep process on your lawn before you are ready to drop the seed to minimize the clippings and waste so you are ready to roll when the nighttime temperatures drop into the high 60’s to very low 70’s.  You’re better off waiting for the temperatures to be in the high 60’s to eliminate warm season competition with your newly planted ryegrass and it also gives your lawn extra time to grow in this fall.

Most people think of the scalping when I talk about the prep work, but actually that is the easiest part.  It is also the most damaging to your grass, so you need to take some precautionary measures before you begin scalping your lawn.  I have said previously that while we have all been told scalping is what needs to be done to get the lawn ready for seed, it is not as important as opening up the grass plant.  If you just continue to scalp your lawn lower and lower you’re making the leaf surface tighter and tighter, and preventing seed from getting into the lawn.

In order to have a successful overseed you need to make sure you have mature turf and that the plant is open enough for seed to get into it.  In order to open the grass plant up you need to verticut or power rake your lawn to reduce the thatch, prevent damage to the grass when you scalp, and open up the turf canopy.  It’s not about how short you mow your lawn but how open it is.  While you can’t leave your lawn at 2” inches, there is no reason that you need to try and mow lower than ¾” if you have a rotary mower and ¼” if you have a reel.  Once the warm season grass goes dormant it is going to become a mat underneath the ryegrass and will lay flat making the current height of the grass unimportant.  Often I hear that you have to get the heights down so it doesn’t come back–this is only true if you are overseeding in the middle of September when temperatures are high and the grass is actively growing.

If you don’t plan on overseeding your lawn this fall you should be doing nothing different right now than you did all summer.  If you have some weeds you can start to spray them out with 2, 4-D as the temperatures dip below 90 and you can by a pre-emergent fertilizer to prevent winter weeds.  This is only necessary if your lawn has been taken over in previous years by crabgrass or poa annua.  Unfortunately there is not a pre-emergent to keep the dreaded nutsedge out of the ground and that is a battle that you just have to stay on top of.  If you just have some broadleafs in your turf you will be able to spray a light Round-Up rate directly on the turf once it has gone completely dormant.  Your lawn typically will be completely dormant by mid December, but that is going to vary depending on how many hard deep frosts we have received.  If you still have green tissue in the grass you will damage it if you spray Round Up on it.

I like to keep the lawn healthy at this time of the year by providing it will just a little nitrogen to keep the growth and a high level of potassium and phosphorus for plant and root strength.  You can use a 15-15-15 or 6-20-20 to get good results and keep a strong lawn and the weeds out.  At this time of the year your watering schedule should be 2-3 times per week for 20-30 minutes per cycle making sure that you are getting water to a 6-8 inch depth.  Go ahead and get a screwdriver out after you water and make sure you can easily push it into the ground.  If you are having difficulty or your soil is compacted it is a good time to rent an aerifier and pull some plugs in the lawn.  Your grass is still actively growing strong and will recover within a week of you pulling plugs and opening up pore space for air and water to enter.  If you have a compacted lawn your root system is often very shallow, you tend to have a choleric look to the lawn, and often times you will have to run twice the amount of water necessary to get the soil moist enough.

If you have a paspalum lawn I suggest waiting to overseed till the end of October, and right now doing a light verticut to the lawn to open up the canopy and get some regrowth.   Once you verticut it is important to water every day for a week to get a full recovery and then switch back to your normal watering cycle.

For your fertilizer applications I still suggest a low nitrogen source such as 6-20-20 until the temperatures start to drop a little and then a couple small applications of Milorganite will help you.  If you are not overseeding your paspalum still get a light vertical mow on the grass and apply about 1/3rd of a pound of nitrogen from either Milorganite 5-0-0 (6 pounds of total product per 1000 SF) or 6-20-20 (5 pounds of total product per 1000 SF).  Don’t get crazy with your nitrogen applications because you want the lawn greener, the color for paspalum is going to come from iron, manganese, and zinc and these can be applied anytime.  As I have said many times you can often find a good mix of these nutrients in a queen palm tree fertilizer.

I put in a quick video of how my lawn looks after week 1 of overseeding.  You can tell from the video that the ryegrass is quickly starting to pop out of the ground and I am getting an even grow in.  Now I did seed early for demonstration purposes only and it is not ideal because of the hot temperatures, but you can see why having a high quality seed is important when you are seeding.  If I would have planted a seed with a low germination rate I would have spotty coverage and there would most likely be too much competition from the bermudagrass.

Click here for my video —->

College Football Week 3

This has quickly become many readers favorite part of the blog so I have decided to make it a permanent part of the blog this season.  First I have to eat some crow this week because I spent most of my last blog giving the “corn heads” from Nebraska bulletin board material for the Washington game, and they came out and showed that they do belong in the conversation.  I am not going to utter the words that they belong in the championship conversation,  but they are much better than I previously thought.  I think they are a good solid top ten team that is looking at going to the Fiesta Bowl to play Boise State.  Probably not the game you want to play in since Boise St has quickly become the fan favorite in Glendale.  They have proven that they can play on the big stage for one game a year, but the reality is that they don’t belong in this game either because of their cupcake schedule.

This week was a Big Ten versus Pac 10 weekend and it came out pretty even with the exception of the Wildcats who showed that they are capable of being a solid contender for the Rose Bowl this year.  The red out in Tucson last week combined with the temperature and late starting time was enough to knock the Hawkeyes out of the race for the BCS Championship.  I have to credit the Wildcats for outstanding play in the first half but it must have been one bad half time speech by Stoops because they came out completely flat in the second half, but held on for a huge victory.  I will say enjoy the #14 ranking while you have it, but there is this team from Oregon that looks more impressive than anyone in the nation.

If you are a Sun Devil fan you are still in shock after the way you played and end up losing by a blocked extra point.  That is a tough pill to swallow considering they have one of the nation’s best place kickers and he has the tying extra point blocked with under 4 minutes to go.  It was an impressive showing by the special teams who just ripped through the senior driven Wisconsin defense and kept ASU in the game.  There was obviously a couple bad breaks including what should have been a touchdown and the receiver was called out of bounds and no one will let go that you ran a kick back 96 yards with no time left on the clock only to get caught on the one foot line.  What should have been a huge win for the Devils may have put them back a little bit, but the team chemistry is close and they continue to look improved every week.

Let’s talk about the big losers of the week–and I hate to do this–but it was Michigan and USC.  It was clear from the beginning of both of these games that they thought they could just walk out onto the field, put up 45 points and go home.  It’s great that Michigan put up 44 points but you also gave up 37 to a Division II school that is known solely for academics and a possible march madness run in basketball.  How is it that Michigan let them come into the Big House with 110,000 people and run all over them making our defense look like it was the first day of spring ball? They are a D2 school, not Alabama.  I would like to think that Rich Rod told his defense to keep them in the game so “Shoelace” Robinson could rack up more Heisman numbers, but the truth is that the defense doesn’t exist and Greg Robinson needs to step up and get these guys motivated to play.  This is a tough year if you are a Trojan fan because you can see the lack of motivation on all the players faces because all hope for a post season was taken away by Reggie Bush.  They have played three miserable teams so far this year and have kept them in the game each and every week.  I understand it is hard to get your players up for Minnesota, but you have the talent and coaching of a top 5 team in the nation and you are playing like a MAC team.  There is no reason that Minnesota should ever be within a touchdown going into the 4rd quarter versus a bunch of 5 star recruits.

Needless to say a win is a win for both Michigan and USC this week, but it wasn’t pretty.  The good news for Michigan this week is that a Division II school is not coming to town, but the bad news is that it is Bowling Green and they typically play to their level of competition.

If you have read some of my older blogs you may know that I am a Michigan State graduate but I am a diehard Michigan fan so you will never hear me comment on the team down south of Ann Arbor that wears scarlet or the team up north that wears green and white.

This should be a much better week for college football as we start to get into conference games and we will see who the real teams are and who is a pretender.  And that is it for week 3…….

Have a good week and hopefully my body can function next week after my run to write a blog.  If you have ever done an ultra marathon and have some advice I would love to hear it.

Please read my past blogs for more info on how to keep your lawn looking  like the Rose Bowl field!

Until next time,