March 1, 2016
Every year I battle Bermuda grass in my iris beds. I love the iris but can’t stand all the grass. Is there something I can spray with now that will keep the grass from growing?
There is no pre-emergent for Bermuda grass-it is a perennial and pre-emergents work on annual weeds. Starting the season off clean, getting all the grass and weeds out now and mulching around the beds can help. You are not supposed to mulch over the actual rhizomes of iris or they can rot, but you can mulch around them, and then pay attention. If you can keep the grass from moving in, you will be ahead of the game. If it does sprout up, a grass-specific herbicide such as Grass-b-gone or poast can kill the grass without harming the iris, but try to spray in May as the grass is getting started, not in August when it is completely covering up the beds. Even though the product will work in August, dead grass is just as unappealing as living grass around iris plants.
December 12, 2015
I recently moved into a new house in Little Rock and the lawn is not what I would like to see. I have full sun in the front and a lot of shade in the back. I am considering seeding Bermuda in the front and Centipede in the back. How soon can I throw seed out and any tips on getting it established quickly?
Getting a lawn established quickly would be accomplished with sodding. If you want to seed, pay attention to the weather conditions in the spring. You want some soil warmth but you do want to take advantage of spring rains to get it growing. May is when we usually have warm enough soil condition for good germination. Bermuda will establish much more quickly than centipede will. Centipede is slow growing in sunny conditions, but will be even slower in the shade. If the shade is dense, you may want to consider a groundcover or mulch, since grass does not easily grow in the shade. Centipede and St. Augustine are the best choices for shade, but St. Augustine does need to be sodded. Here is a link to our fact sheet on establishing lawns in Arkansas: http://www.uaex.edu/publications/PDF/FSA-2113.pdf.
I have just had much of my yard tilled up (to loosen the soil) and had Bermuda sod laid to replace the areas that did not make it during the drought/summer. Planting sod in September seemed to me was the right time of year. Was I right? Should I broadcast any fertilizer on the sod or just omit the fertilizer?
Sodding is something that can be done year-round, as long as you are willing to water. I usually don’t recommend any fertilizer on warm season grasses past mid September. We don’t want to encourage a lot of rapid new top growth heading into winter. The key is to keep it watered to develop a root system and fertilize next spring after the lawn has totally greened up.
What I thought was crab grass in my yard has been identified by a yard professional as Dallas grass, which I had never heard of. Apparently, it doesn’t grow from a seed. My questions are: where does it come from and, short of digging it up, how do I get rid of it?
Dallisgrass is a perennial grass. While it does bloom and set seed, which it can germinate from, it comes back from the root system each year, making it a more tenacious weed than the annual crabgrass which comes up only from seed each year. You didn’t say what type of lawngrass you are growing. If you have Bermuda or Zoysia grass, then wait until the Dallisgrass and lawn have fully greened up and treat with the same herbicides you would use to kill crabgrass—two brand names include Weed-Hoe or Weed-B-Gon Crabgrass Killer for Lawns. It may take more than one application, but you can control it.
On common Bermuda grass, what do you recommend to fertilize this time of the year?
The best time to fertilize Bermuda grass is after it is fully green and growing--no sooner than mid April. Fertilizing it now, will just make your weeds grow faster.
My lawn is part St. Augustine and part Bermuda grass. What is the best pre-emergence to use and what is the best fertilizer that works with both types of grass?
The main reason to apply pre-emergent herbicides for warm season grasses by March 1 is the prevention of crabgrass. Products containing benefin, pendimethalin, or bensulide are all effective. There are numerous product names, but they usually always have crabgrass or weed prevention on the label. All too often we run into weed and feed formulations. If possible, go with a stand-alone herbicide, since Bermuda and St. Augustine will not benefit from a fertilizer application until April, so the fertilizer is more a waste or a boon to your winter weeds. As to fertility, both grasses need a slow release high nitrogen fertilizer since nitrogen is the nutrient used the most by lawns. Look for something with a higher first number and the next two smaller such as 27-3-4. Fertilize both grasses once they are totally green. St. Augustine could be happy with one or possibly two applications of fertilizer, while Bermuda grass will respond well to multiple applications, depending on how often you want to mow.
My grass is thin (Bermuda), and I wondered if there is some product that I could spread on it at this season so that next year, it would be stronger ? We have had this Bermuda for many years, so it is very established now.
I think you need to assess why it is thin. If it is not in full sun, the grass will continue to get thinner and thinner—Bermuda grass does not live well in the shade. Fertility is one way of thickening the grass up, provided it gets enough light. You can fertilize one last time by early September, but then you will have to wait until next spring. Encouraging tender new growth too late in the fall can lead to winter damage. Using a regular fertilization program from May through early September will have the grass growing in leaps and bounds—sometimes too fast.
We live in Mena. Our side lawn was pretty much destroyed by the uprooting of a dozen mature trees by the April 2009 tornado. In November 2009 we replaced the lawn with Zoysia turf. The adjoining front lawn has St Augustine. Bermuda grass is prevalent on all sides at the edges and interspersed in places. It moves aggressively into bare spots. In order to fill in areas where there is still no turf I am encouraging the Bermuda grass. THE QUESTION: Is Bermuda grass the turf of champions as it is so often portrayed or the invasive weed that my wife would like to ban from the lawn so as to protect her gardens? How would Zoysia, St Augustine and Bermuda grass coexist? We both recognize its aggressive nature -I as a benefit; she as a liability. I do not believe that I would be willing or able to ever gain complete control over it, so would prefer to take a "if you can't fight it, join it " attitude.
Bermuda grass is the most aggressive grass when grown in full sun. It is the least adapted to shade. If you have full sun, I would encourage it, since it will grow nicely and would be hard to kill. It will blend in nicely with Zoysia, but St. Augustine is much more coarse in texture and actually doesn't like competition or traffic. I would make sure you keep a buffer zone between the lawn and the flower beds to help manage its spread and keep it from becoming a problem in the flower beds.
What is the best month to seed and fertilize your lawn?
If the lawn grass is Bermuda, the ideal time to seed is from spring to early summer. This allows the grass seed time to get established before fall. Fertilize existing lawns after they have totally greened up in the spring—usually mid to late April or even early May is fine for the first application. Rates and number of applications vary depending on the type of grass you are growing. Lawn grass calendars for all types of lawn grass are available on our Extension website at arhomeandgarden.org/lawns.htm
When we moved into a new house in Bella Vista six years ago, I had the yard sodded with Bermuda. It has never done well. After maintaining it myself for two years, I contracted with a Lawn Service in an effort for improvement - and the lawn is still very poor. The grass is never truly green. The Bermuda refuses to aggressively crawl, the turf is thin, and it appears not to be deep rooted and can, in fact, be pulled quite easily. I have no idea as to the quality of the soil - I would like to have it tested but do not know where to take a soil sample for analysis. I see Bermuda in many areas which looks much better than mine - alongside the road, vacant lots etc. - and haven't a clue as to what is wrong with mine. Do you have any advice? Would appreciate your help.
I would suspect two problems. If your yard is shady, Bermuda is not going to grow. Also, if you have a typical Bella Vista yard, you have pitiful rocky soil. The combination of shade and no soil does not bode well for grass. Bermuda does the best in poor soils of any of our lawn grasses, but it also needs the most sun. At least six to eight hours a day is needed. Bermuda also responds the best to nitrogen fertilizer. It can be fertilized monthly from May through August. To have your soil tested for pH and nutritional levels take a pint of soil to your local county extension office. If shade is a factor, consider growing a ground cover or mulching, since I would much prefer shade than grass in an Arkansas summer. For a complete list of county extension office addresses visit our website at www.uaex.edu then click on "find us".
Why is our grass only green on top? There is no green what-so-ever further down the stalk. We have had this problem all year.
You are probably mowing your lawn at too high a setting, or letting it grow too much between mowings. If you mow high, every time you mow, you remove the only portion of the lawn that had direct sunlight—and thus green leaves. The top part of the grass is actually shading the bottom. The term for this is sheathing. It takes a day or two for the unexposed lawn to re-green after cutting. For next season, try mowing your lawn at a lower setting or mowing more often, so that you don't remove more than one third of the leaf blade at a time. Some lawn grasses are more susceptible to this problem, with hybrid Bermuda being one of the most susceptible.
When I bought my house seven years ago, the front yard was sodded with zoysia. The zoysia flourished for the first couple of years. Now the zoysia is slowly being replaced by Bermuda. Around some of the edges only a few sprigs of zoysia can be seen however, the center of the yard still contains a majority of zoysia. Is there anything I can do to invigorate the zoysia and slow the growth of the Bermuda?
Bermuda tends to be a strong performer in full sun. It is more drought tolerant than zoysia and will perform better in adverse conditions. If more shade encroaches in the yard, the Bermuda will begin to play out. Zoysia needs less nitrogen and can be mowed at a higher setting than Bermuda. There are no chemicals that will kill out one versus the other, so you may just want to learn to live with it.
HELP!! About 2 weeks ago, I put out 3- 40 lb bags of Weed and Feed. It said it would kill henbit and sandburs and other weeds. Unfortunately, I did not save a bag to see exactly what all it said. Now my weeds are so beautiful and green and nothing is dead or dying. They look healthier than ever. The last two years the weeds have gotten worse and worse and I have got to nip them in the bud. But this has backfired and I have spent a lot of money and still have weeds. I saved an article out of the paper from last year from a lady who battled henbit, (even picked it all out by hand) and your advice to her was to put this stuff out in January, (which I did). I now have green weeds and nothing dying. I am beginning to not care if I have a lawn, just so I don't have weeds. I have partly St. Augustine, which in one part of lawn is so thick; I don't have a problem with weeds. In another part of the lawn there is a mixture of Bermuda and St. Augustine -- that is where the weeds are taking over. I live in the middle of a pasture on 137 acres. Years ago, when we had cows, we sprigged a hybrid Bermuda grass called Alicia. It is great for cows and hay but not for flowers or gardening. It grows 12 foot long runners and when you fertilize your flowers or garden, the Alicia grass just goes wild. So I have mostly gone to shrubs and trees around my house because I like to do other things besides battle grass. The only thing to tame the Bermuda is Round-up. Is that what I must resort to for killing the weeds?
I wish you still had the bag. Many weed and feed products are a pre-emergent herbicide coupled with fertilizer. Pre-emergent herbicides are used to prevent weeds from germinating not kill those already growing. The product you applied can prevent your summer weeds -- which include sandburs and crabgrass, but won't have any impact on those winter weeds which are already growing. To prevent winter weeds you must use a PRE-emergent in November. As you noticed, you may have actually helped the winter weeds grow with that "feed" portion, which is fertilizer. For now, you can use a product containing 2,4- D -- Trimec is one such product but there are many other brand names. Look for a broad leaf weed KILLER not PREVENTOR. Be sure you find a product that says it is safe to use on St. Augustine. There is nothing that would kill Bermuda without also killing the St. Augustine. Bermuda is a much tougher lawn than St. Augustine, and if you have sun, you may want to convert—giving yourself a weed free zone of mulch between lawn and flower beds. Good luck!
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