With warmer weather and abundant rain, many Alabama lawns have jumped into high gear. Homeowners can tackle some simple chores to help get their turf in tip top shape.
Dr. Dave Han, an Alabama Extension turf specialist, said general maintenance on the mower is one of the first orders of business.
Sharpening mower blades, changing spark plugs and setting mower blade height to correctly cut different types of grass are important steps toward taking good care of turf.
Han said heavy fertilization isn’t necessarily a good idea too early in the growing season.
“Most of the time it’s okay to wait until the end of April and early May to put out fertilizer,” Han said. “Wait until the ground is warm enough to support good root growth – an average soil temperature of 70 degrees.”
Irrigation is another major factor in turf health. Most homeowners do not use irrigation systems over the winter, but in the summer a regular watering will help keep the yard lush and green. Before using the irrigation system it is important to check for broken sprinkler heads, clogged lines and properly rotating sprinkler heads. Han said checking these simple things can keep homeowners from wasting money and water.
“To keep most species of turf grass actively growing throughout the season, it takes about one inch of water per week,” Han said. “That’s an inch of water per week from all sources, including rainfall. There’s no substitute for Mother Nature’s rain to make plants grow.”
When grass is going into a dry spell, warm season grasses survive by going into dormancy. If the grass is healthy, it will begin growing again with the next rain and Han said there is really no reason to water it before the next shower.
Many homeowners want to know how much water will it take to keep the grass green? Han said dormancy can be stalled by watering in small amounts once per week. Watering early in the morning when it’s the coolest gets the most bang for the buck, since less water is lost to evaporation before it can soak into the ground. Also, when water lawns or any other part of the landscape, be sure to turn off the irrigation if water is running off the surface.
For assistance with turf grass in your area, talk to your local Extension agents, or visit www.aces.edu for publications and other turf information.
Based on proven Master Gardener training and seasoned with university research, the “Gardening in the South” series of books is packed with information, tips and tricks to being a successful Southern gardener.
Have a gardening question, call the Master Gardener Helpline. To reach the helpline, dial 1-877-252-GROW (4769).