UACES Facebook Fertility


(September 2012)

QuestionFor years my wife's father had his yard in primo condition. Since his passing, the yard has cultivated a dandy crop of crab grass and other weeds unknown to me. I have used Ortho Weed Killer with crabgrass preventer, and it really doesn't seem to be doing the job. In thinking ahead to spring of 2013, what would be my best option in eradicating crabgrass from the yard, and should I start this fall. I do plan to apply a Wintertime weed and feed probably in mid October.

AnswerI don’t like to use any fertilizer on lawns in Arkansas after mid September unless you are growing tall fescue. Most southern lawns go dormant for the winter, and I would hate to encourage new growth, too late in the year, or spur on winter weeds. Crabgrass is a summer annual weed, which means it germinates in late spring, grows all summer, sets seeds and dies in the fall or early winter. There is nothing to do this fall to prevent it for next year. Apply a pre-emergent herbicide in late February and a second application in early April and you should be good. Monitor for weeds during the growing season. The more dense the lawn grass, the less weeds you have. We do have lawn care calendars for each of the lawn grasses grown in Arkansas on our website:

(May 2012)

QuestionWe are having a problem with dead patches in our lawn. We have had a lawn service for 3 years who fertilize every 4 months and apply weed pre-emergence once a year. I understand dead patches from weed killer, but it keeps getting worse. My husband attached a grass catcher to our mower, this being the 3rd summer. My question is whether the weed pre-emergence or the grass catcher could be causing the problem or even both of them. I have heard that grass clippings should be left on the ground - also, that the clippings should be raked up.......I hope you can help with my thoughts & concerns.

AnswerDead patches in lawns can be caused by a number of things, from over-application of fertilizers and herbicides, to insects and diseases, and in cold winters, winter damage. Shade is also a factor in how well a lawn grows—grass does not do well in the shade. The type of lawn grass you are growing can also impact how much traffic it can take and how much fertilization it needs. I like to recycle lawn clippings. As long as you are mowing frequently, and not removing more than one third of the lawn grass at a time, you shouldn’t have to bag your grass clippings. The grass clippings can actually add nutrition back to the soil. If the grass gets tall in between mowing leaving behind heavy accumulations of wet grass, then bag or rake, since the clumps of dead grass could damage your lawn, and they are unsightly. Fertilizing every 4 months is a bit odd for a fertilization program. Normally we recommend waiting until the lawn is totally green and then fertilizing. If you grow St. Augustine or Zoysia, you could get by with one application of fertilizer per year, or you could apply one more application midsummer or late summer depending on the amount of moisture we have and how hot it is. Bermuda grass will tolerate fertilizer every month from May through August, but you will mow like crazy, so you may want to only fertilize twice a year. Take a sample of your dying grass to your local county extension office to see if they can determine the cause.


QuestionOn common Bermuda grass, what do you recommend to fertilize this time of the year?

AnswerThe 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.

(April 2009)

QuestionLast year I almost ruined my centipede lawn by over-fertilizing with a high nitrogen fertilizer. Now I read where I need to use 15-0-15 fertilizer for centipede lawns. Should I apply it or not use any fertilizer at all.

AnswerCentipede grass requires the least amount of fertilizer of any lawn grass. If yours had a heavy dose last year, you could skip fertilization this year. If the lawn looks yellow, try spraying with iron chelate to green it up. In most years, one application of a slow release high nitrogen fertilizer (using no more than 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1000 square feet) should be applied in mid to late June or early July. Have your soil tested to determine fertilizer needs and to make sure the pH of the soil is in line.

(September 2009)

QuestionMy 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.

AnswerI 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.

(Feb. 2010)

QuestionWhat is the best month to seed and fertilize your lawn?

AnswerIf 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

(July 2006)

QuestionI live in Sevier County in an older home with an established centipede lawn. This spring I applied weed and feed fertilizer (23-3-3). Now the grass is turning yellowish brown on the ends. I found on the internet that I should use 15-0-15 with iron. Should I apply now or is it too late?

AnswerDon't apply any more fertilizer to your centipede lawn this season. Centipede is a slow growing lawn that only requires one application of fertilizer per year. If you apply too much it can damage the lawn. For now, simply keep it watered when dry and monitor the browning. If it continues, take a plant sample to your county office and allow them to send it to the disease diagnostic lab.

All links to external sites open in a new window. You may return to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture web site by closing this window when you are finished. We do not guarantee the accuracy of the information, or the accessibility for people with disabilities listed at any external site.

Links to commercial sites are provided for information and convenience only. Inclusion of sites does not imply University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture's approval of their product or service to the exclusion of others that may be similar, nor does it guarantee or warrant the standard of the products or service offered.

The mention of any commercial product in this web site does not imply its endorsement by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture over other products not named, nor does the omission imply that they are not satisfactory.