2/5/2014 6:00:00 AM Prepare right now to have a healthy lawn this summer
BY HARVIN HUDSON
Most of us are delighted that our warm-season species lawns have gone dormant and we are enjoying a reprise from our weekly or more often mowing chore. But we shouldn't forget our lawn completely at this time.
There are a few things we can do that will ensure a more aesthetic and healthy lawn this spring. With the recent rains and cold wet soil we can much easier determine poor drainage areas and begin filling these with topsoil or determine some drainage options. Continue the removal of any leaf litter from your lawn.
Controlling winter weeds now will be much easier than waiting until they reach maturity and become unsightly. Warm-season turf species will not benefit from fertilization until they are actively growing so make plans for a fertilization program but don't apply any fertilizer now unless you have over seeded your lawn with a cool season species.
Applying lime to raise the soil pH (acidity) is a different matter however. If you have taken a soil sample and found that lime is recommended, then by all means get it out any time during the year. Lime will improve the soil acidity and make nutrients more available when needed as it generally takes months for lime to react and dramatically change the soil pH.
One of the more difficult to control winter weeds found in many lawns across Mississippi is wild garlic. Wild garlic is a cool-season perennial with slender, hollow cylindrical leaves having a somewhat waxy coating.
When crushed there is a distinctive garlic odor. Underground bulbs bear offset bulblets that are flattened on one side. Another plant often found in the same lawns and confused with wild garlic is wild onion. Wild onions do not produce offset bulblets and the flowering stems are solid.
Now is the time to apply post-emerge herbicides that have activity on wild garlic and wild onions. While warm season lawns are dormant and the weeds are actively growing we can allow these weeds to get tall enough to get maximum herbicide coverage and absorption. Once mowing begins there is little leaf surface on these weeds. There is also less danger of injury to the turf at this time.
Image (imazaquin) is labeled for warm season turf species and has very good activity on wild garlic and onions as well as can control many sedges that may also be present in the lawn.
Hormonal herbicides such as 2,4-D, dicamba, MCPP have fair activity on wild garlic and wild onions with products having the combinations of these active ingredients usually being more effective than one single chemical alone.
The latest chemistry class of herbicides labeled for lawns that have good activity on many broadleaf species including wild garlic at very low rates are the sulfonylurea products (Manor, Blade, Corsair, Certainty, Monument, etc.).
For specific use rates and timing always read the label of any pesticide before applying.
For additional information on lawn care stop by the Neshoba County Extension Service office located in the Neshoba County Coliseum and pick up a copy of the publication "Establishing And Managing Your Lawn."