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Question:
I want to completely kill the winter rye without harming the El Toro Zoysia. Will the Green Light Wipe Out be safe for the Zoysia grass??

Answer:
The Wipe-Out product for annual ryegrass problem will not have any affect on the ryegrass. It contains 2,4-D, MCPP, and Dicamba which do not have activity on grasses. The best advice is to wait for the heat of summer for grassy weed control in zoysiagrass.

Of course, my question would be why was the zoysiagrass overseeded with annual rye in the first place. Generally, zoysiagrasses do not tolerate overseeding very well. James McAfee. SO, your best bet for rye grass control would probably be to mow and wait for hot weather.




Question:
Please give instructions on how to plant bluebonnets in a bermuda grass lawn. Since my lawn doesn't look to good after the drought, I thought I would plant it to bluebonnets.

Answer:
You must have a bermuda grass or zoysia lawn growing in an area which receives 8-10 hours of direct sun daily — St. Augustine lawns DO NOT qualify. St. Augustine lawns do not go dormant soon enough in the fall and they begin to regrow too soon in the spring. The overseeding procedure involves:
1. Aerate the bermuda turf area no later than Thanksgiving with a soil plug-removing (rather than poking type) aerator available at rental stores. This is a good cultural practice for compacted bermuda lawns anyway.
2. Immediately after plugging the lawn area, sow the scarified bluebonnet seed at the rate of one pound (17,000 seed) per 1000 square feet and rake the area with a lawn broom to evenly distribute the seed and to make sure some seed fall into the holes punched by the plugging machine. Not all seed has to be in the plugged holes since the turf grass surface will be "roughed" enough from the aerifying process to provide enough soil-seed contact to enable seed germination.
3. After sowing the scarified seed, thoroughly water the area. Watering during the winter SHOULD ONLY OCCUR if monthly rainfall is not received. Fall fertilization can be applied as usual.
4. Competing grassy winter weeds can be controlled by spraying the planting with Fusilade- containing herbicides such as Ortho Grass-B-Gon. This herbicide can be sprayed onto bluebonnets and will kill surrounding grass AND NOT DAMAGE THE BLUEBONNETS which are not grass. If, however, other broadleaf bluebonnet-like weeds such as henbit or clover begins to over-shadow the state flower, you may have to intervene with a bit of weed pulling exercise — there is no herbicide which will kill other broadleaf weeds and not kill broad-leaved bluebonnets.
5. Remember, YOU MUST REMOVE (shred and mow) the large bluebonnet plants IMMEDIATELY after they bloom next April or you can and will damage the bermuda grass turf. You MUST realize that this is a new and sophisticated technique of beautifying a dull, brown bermuda grass lawn — NOT a technique of insuring a bluebonnet planting for eternity by allowing plants to remain dying and ugly until seed are mature in June. Overseeding will occur every fall so that designs and colors can be altered and bermuda grass turf will not be damaged (summer green-up of grass will be delayed). This will also alleviate the necessity of neighborhood petitions to force you to clean up your "weed" infested lawn!



Question:
Should I overseed my "damaged" grass?

Answer:
Overseeding this fall might lead to warm-season turf with some very serious problems next year because of the summer we have had this year. A healthy warm season turf being overseeded is severely weakened as it is from the competition of the aggressive cool-season turfgrass being planted into it. Think back to how weak your overseeded turfs were this spring as they transitioned back to warm season turf, and imagine what you will likely have if you are overseeding an already thin turf this fall. I bet next year will be the easiest transition year you have ever had — know why? There won't be a transition for a lot of us because there won't be a warm season grass remaining. If you don't have to overseed, DON'T. Raise the turf cutting height and get your soils tested to ensure nutrient and pH levels are appropriate. Avoid the temptation to keep cutting the turf at early summer levels because you finally have something to cut. Allow it to fully prepare for the upcoming winter by naturally hardening off through the day/night heating/cooling patterns of this time of year .

Expect a lot of winter weeds. The thin turf that has received some rainfall during the last couple of weeks is sure to be invaded by a bumper crop of winter weeds. Many have already gone out with their fall PRE herbicide application with this in mind. What is being used: these are the most common choices — prodiamine, pendimethalin, oryzalin, or oxadiazon. All of these are excellent PRE materials, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. There are other herbicides which can also do a good job.

Be very careful with late season cultivation events on warm season grasses, particularly vertical mowing. Maybe this is part of your overseeding preparation or maybe you just feel it is something that needs to be done. However, be wary of cultivation this year after the summer we have had. The weaker your warm-season turf is, the more likely the damage this winter.




Question:
We would appreciate you recommendation on which type of grass to use for around our new swimming pool. The natural soil in the area is 2-6 inches of heavy black soil over SOLID caliche/rock. It currently supports natives such as cedars, mesquite, horseherb, bluebonnets, spiderwort, etc. We intend to backfill/top dress around the pool area (approx 2000 sq ft) with a minimum of 4 inches of high-quality topsoil (GardenVille's "4-way mix"). The pool area will have a very natural, native look - not manicured. We intend to use sod, not seed or plugs. The area will be maintained "organically" - we do not use pesticides/herbicides. Would zoysia, buffalo, or some other grass be best? Also, can I "seed over" these grasses with wildflower seeds or will one compete with the other?

Answer:
I assume that the area you intend to sod with turf is in the full sun. If so, I recommend that one of the wide bladed zoysias (El Toro or JaMur) be used. These zoysias can be maintained using a regular rotary mower. Zoysia does not lend itself to overseeding. Buffalo grass would. However, buffalo will not withstand the foot traffic that you will have around the pool. And since it is ideal for overseeding with wildflowers, it will have constant weed problems the rest of the year.



Question:
A friend has brought me about 5 pounds of Texas Bluebonnet seeds to plant in our pasture. We live north of Atlanta and have some open pasture, where I'd love to broadcast these seed this year. Assuming germination, weather, soil etc. don't stop me, do cows and horses eat bluebonnets, and if so, would it be harmful to these animals?

Answer:
Cows and horses do not eat bluebonnets — the plants contain alkaloids which cause them to be very distasteful to livestock other than buffalo (they were called Buffalo Clover) and occasionally deer. Because of this, farmers and ranchers often take measures to eradicate bluebonnets from the pastures with a broadleaf contact herbicide. Indeed, to a cattle rancher, the Texas State Flower named bluebonnet is a Texas State Weed. Now, to your question about overseeding your pasture with bluebonnets. Bluebonnets are very poor competitors and will be choked out by most pasture grasses such as fescue. I would suggest you plant them in a bermuda grass pasture rather than with another broadleaf pasture grass. Or you could plant them in an area of the pasture with sparse vegetation and use a grass herbicide such as Poast or Fusilade to keep invading grasses out. You should scratch or lightly chisel the area to insure a good soil-seed contact or otherwise you will just be feeding the birds with this expensive seed. Read and follow the planting directions on the Wildseed page at:
aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu...



Question:
I have a question about bermudagrass. I live in Fayetteville , North Carolina, the season for growing bermudagrass is over. But with stores cutting there prices, is it feasible to purchase a large quantity now and save it for next year? How should it be stored in the garage or house? The best price I've seen so far is 5 pounds(2,500 square feet) for $5.23. Is there a site on the internet where a can buy bermuda grass? Also, I was thinking about planting some winter grass, to choke out my crabgrass. What is your recommendation?

Answer:
Bermuda grass seed should be stored in a cool, dry place and should lose about 15-20% germination per year. Of course, you cannot be assured that you are purchasing this year's seed either. You will come out way head of the game if you purchase "good deal" bermuda grass seed, store it, knowing you will lose some germination percentage on it, and sow the old seed thicker than normal than you will to mail-order bermuda seed. You can overseed with an annual rye for winter but I doubt if that will "choke out your crabgrass". Please see the information about overseeding bermuda turf at the PLANTanswers site:
aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu...



Question:
What is vertical mowing?



Answer:

A vertical mower cuts by impact of whirling knives, which turn in a vertical plane on a high-speed horizontal shaft. These blades are usually fixed, but may be free swinging.

One of the main purposes of vertical mowing is to remove excess thatch from turfgrass. Vertical mowing is also used on a routine basis for golf green management to prevent the build up of graininess in the putting surface. Vertical mowing will also stimulate the growth of new shoots. Also, some people will vertical mow turf in the fall prior to overseeding with ryegrass. This vertical mowing thins the warm season turfgrass so the ryegrass seed has a better chance of reaching the soil.

For more information on vertical mowing or any other turfgrass cultural practices, I would recommend ordering a copy of Dr. Duble's “Turfgrasses, Their Management and Use in the Southern Zone.” This is published through Texas A&M University Press in College Station.

James McAfee
Extension Turfgrass Specialist





Question:
When I took a sample of the grass I now have in my yard to a nursery, they said it is buffalograss. I think I want to overseed with a bermuda (maybe the Sahara variety?) should I do that NOW or wait until spring? Also, we've had 2 or 3 inches of rain in the last two days; I am thinking of aerating tomorrow and then overseeding with the bermuda and then fertilizer. Is this wise?

Answer:
Aeration is a good idea. I'm not sure that tomorrow is. If you received the rain that you say then the ground is still muddy. I'm not sure of the effectiveness of aerating muddy soil.

I would be reluctant to seed bermuda at the present time. In order to germinate and get established, bermudagrass seed (and subsequent plants) need for the top inch or so of the soil to be pretty much constantly moist. This requires daily sprinkling for about the first 3 weeks. There appears to be no let up on the sprinkling restrictions other than the possible lifting of the absolute ban in another week. You will still be restricted to one day a week (or one day every other week is the restrictions go to stage III).

When, and if, you do seed the bermudagrass you should not apply any fertilizer until it is up and going good. This would be perhaps 4 weeks after seeding.

See this PLANTanswers web site for much more information on turf:

http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/PLANTanswers/turf/turf.html







Question:
My St. Augustine lawn is in horrible condition so I'm considering overseeding with Raleigh St. Augustine. How should this variety perform in Houston? For future reference, assuming that I'm able to successfully grow this variety from seed, is it tolerant of selective post emergent herbicides such as Ortho Weed-b-gon?

Answer:
Raleigh St Augustine should grow in Houston just fine and can be safely treated with the herbicide you mention. However, I do not know where you are going to get seed for this turfgrass. While St Augustine does produce seed, it is not commonly marketed because of the cost of harvesting. I have never seen any offered for sale.



Question:
I am planning a common burmudagrass lawn in full sun with the objective of overseeding with wildflowers for spring blooming. Will this work? I want wildflowers in the spring and a grass lawn the rest of the year.

Answer:
It will work if the grass is sparse enough that the wildflower seed can get in contact with the soil and the wildflowers will reseed if you leave them in the lawn long enough for the seed to mature and drop into the grass. This basically means that you should not mow your lawn in the spring until about mid June.



Question:
I moved into a one year old house last October. I have two problems with my lawn: a) The bermuda grass is bad for about 1/2 of the lawn. By "bad" I mean there are more weeds than grass. (b) Whoever put the lawn in did not level the ground. By this I do not mean an occasional 1" dip, I mean that mowing the lawn is bone shaking. So I really have two questions: What should I do to get better grass? And what are my options for leveling the lawn?
Also I should mention: (1) I would like to put in rye grass for the winter. (2) I put some weed & feed on the lawn about 8 weeks ago. This did help the "OK" bits where there was reasonable grass coverage. But in 1/2 of the lawn, the weeds came back.
I am getting ready to put more fertilizer on, but I don't want to waste my money if it won't help me. Would letting the rye grow over the winter help choke the weeds or do I need to put some bermuda seed there at some point?
With the leveling, I probably need 4+ inches in some spots. Can I put that much on without doing real damage?

Answer:
From your description of the existing conditions either the lawn was not fully sodded or a very poor job was done of preparing the area for the installation of sod. I do not believe that it would have been started from seed. However, that is all of no importance at this time. One of the benefits of bermudagrass turf is that there are herbicides such as MSMA that will eradicate virtually all weeds without harming the bermuda. So this is where I recommend that you start. After applying this herbicide in accordance with the label instructions, you can go ahead and fertilize the lawn again. If you like Scotts, their TurfBuilder is a good one. Or any other slow release, high nitrogen lawn food will be fine.
I do not ever recommend the use of ‘weed & feed’ combinations as the herbicide
used in the majority of them is very non-selective and can do much damage to ornamental plants in the vicinity if not applied with the greatest of care. Also the timing of the applications of fertilizer and herbicide rarely coincide. Then you can begin to level your lawn by the application of a good quality top soil into which has been incorporated some sand and some compost. If you have areas where the bermudagrass does not seem to want to grow through it, I recommend that you sow some seed there. Bermudagrass seed can be safely sown until about the first of October and be hardened off before any frosts or freezes. It will need to be watered lightly almost daily for about 3 weeks after germination in order to get well established. I do not like the practice of overseeding home lawns with rye because of the higher maintenance required. The lawn will need to be mowed at least twice weekly and perhaps even daily, depending on the height. Also it will need frequent watering. For much more turf grass information see this PlantAnswers web site: http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/PLANTanswers/turf/turf.html




Question:
I run a local landscape maintenance company in S.A. and have several customers who insist on overseeding their turf. I have been trying to convince them not to for several reasons. One: to get the seed to germinate we should set sprinklers once during the middle of the day to prevent drying out. This is not a good idea because of the water restrictions and fines. Two: I personally feel we are damaging turf in S.A. doing this because our grass rarely goes dormant. I was wondering if you could provide me with an expert opinion on this subject. They are getting recommendations from Dallas and Waco to do it. I need some local advice.


Answer:
I agree with you about the problems associated with overseeding warm season turfgrasses for fall color. This is especially true for areas in south Texas were turfgrasses do not always go completely dormant in the winter and if they do, it is for a very short period of time. However, I can also understand the property managers’ quest for an attractive, dark green landscape year around. Curb appeal can be very important to many of these property managers.

Agronomically, overseeding the warm season turfgrasses is a stress on the turfgrass. This is especially true for turfgrasses such as St. Augustinegrass and zoysiagrass which do not tolerate overseeding as well as the bermudagrasses. We have to scalp the lawn in the fall which severely cuts back the production of stored carbohydrates in the fall for winter survival. It is these stored carbohydrates that the plants use to produce new growth in the spring following winter dormancy. Secondly, in the spring when the warm season turfgrasses are trying to break dormancy, the ryegrass is at its peak. This prevents the warm season turfgrasses from coming out of dormancy on schedule.

Your water situation in San Antonio does further complicate matters. It does take light, frequent supplemental irrigations for approximately two weeks to obtain a good stand of ryegrass. During periods of water restrictions, this is hard to accomplish.

My recommendation is generally not to overseed if at all possible. The only situations were I do recommend overseeding in the fall is for sports fields that are played on during the winter time period.

James McAfee
Extension Turfgrass Specialist




Question:
IMAGE has lots or dos and don'ts, but I did not see much about use on warm season turf in hot weather other than transition time, overseeding and winter weed control warnings. What temperature concerns (high and low) are there with this product?






Answer:
IMAGE can safely be used during hot weather, with no danger of damaging the desirable turf.







Question:
Can winter ryegrass damage an existing turf's root system, specifically bermuda grasses?




Answer:
The problem with overseeding bermudagrass with rye is not so much the root system but the fact that the rye is going to compete for nutrients and moisture in the spring and the bermuda is going to suffer from this competition. Also, if we have a cool spring/early summer the rye is going to take that much longer to die out. My recommendation would be to not overseed.






Question:
Where can I find out about the best way to care for Rye Grass on putting greens? I belong to a golf club in the Bexar County area and every year it seems that we don't get much out of planting Rye for the winter. Specifically, how should the grass be cut? We seem to have a high density of rye in the holes that were put in the green for aeration. However, where there is no hole, our Rye is not there.


Answer:
Outlined below are the keys to achieving a successful overseeding with ryegrass on golf greens.

First, aerify the greens a month prior to overseeding. The reason yousee the ryegrass coming up in the holes is because you are probably overseeding too soon after aerifying and the holes have not filled in yet.

Second, the ideal time to overseed in the San Antonio area will be around mid-October to early November. Overseeding too soon will increase the chance of disease problems and overseeding too late will increase the chance of the young ryegrass seedlings being killed by an early freeze.

The greens should be vertically mowed right before you overseed to insure good seed-to-soil contact.

Apply the perennial ryegrass on the greens at 12 to 15 pounds of seed per 1,000 sq.ft. I would also apply a starter fertilizer at the time of overseeding such as a 10-10-10 or 10-20-10. Topdressing lightly with a good quality sand at 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch will also be beneficial. Then drag the sand and seed into the green with a screen drag mat.

Once you start watering the greens after overseeding, continue to maintain moisture around the seed until they have started to germinate and grow. Improper watering following overseeding is one of the major reasons for poor establishment.

Once the seed reach the desired mowing height, start mowing the greens. The perennial ryegrass should be mowed around 3/16 to 1/4 of an inch initially. Once fully established, you can slightly lower the cutting height if you want to increase ball roll speed. It is very important to sharpen the mower blades before you start mowing the overseeded greens. A dull reel mower blade will pull the young ryegrass seedlings out of the ground. This is also a very common problem.

If you follow these steps, your overseeding should be successful.

James McAfee
Extension Turfgrass Specialist





Question:
We live in the Dallas area and are considering planting Zoysia this summer since every year our Fescue lawn dies with the summer heat. Will having both grasses cause too much competition for root space?


Answer:
The mixture of a cool season turfgrass (tall fescue) and a warm season turfgrass (zoysiagrass) would not provide an attractive lawn for the Dallas area. While I have seen zoysiagrass and Kentucky bluegrass mixtures in lawns in the midwest where both of these grasses are adapted, this would not work effectively this far south.

With partial shade, my recommendation would be to continue with the tall fescue or to remove the fescue and plant the lawn in zoysiagrass.

I have grown tall fescue in Richardson, Texas for over 15 years and have not ever totally lost my fescue during the heat of summer. While the fescue may thin out some summers, a light overseeding in the fall is all that is required to produce a thick, healthy stand of turfgrass. If you are loosing most of your fescue in the heat of summer, I would check your fertility and watering program on the fescue.

Fertilize the fescue in September, late November (highest rate for the year), late February and lightly in late April to early May. Over fertilizing in the spring will deplete the fescues root system going into the hot, dry summer months.

Most people tend to overwater turfgrasses, especially grasses like St. Augustinegrass and tall fescue. I only water my tall fescue once per week, if no rainfall occurs, and this includeds the hot, dry summer months. Again, overwatering will produce a shallow rooted tall fescue plant that doesn't have the ability to withstand the hot dry summer months.

Also, tall fescue that is over fertilized and overwatered in the spring is highly susceptible to brown patch. This fungus can cause serious damage to the tall fescue in late spring to early summer months.

James McAFee
Extension Turfgrass Specialists




Question:
I have a new home with bermuda sod which was just planted in December . I wanted to find some grass which will root so that my dogs (3 Doberman) will not destroy the back yard before it begins to grow . There is a hint of green in the sod due to the warm weather but I fear another dose of winter will kill the bermuda . Could I use winter rye to preserve my back yard or will the early spring weather mean an early green lawn?

Answer:
This is not an easy one to answer. First, I wouldn't count on mother nature for any help whatever. Trying to made decisions based on future weather conditions generally gets you in trouble.

If you don't overseed with ryegrass to stabilize the sod, I suspect the three dogs will tear up the new sod. Even if the warm weather continues, it will be a while before the bermudagrass starts to aggressively produce new root growth and/or new top growth. You need 60 to 65 degree soil temperature for good root growth in bermudagrass and 70 to 80 degrees for good top growth. I would overseed with ryegrass at about 7 to 8 lbs. of ryegrass seed per 1,000 sq. ft. Unfortunately, with the cooler soil temperatures, it will take longer for the ryegrass seed to germinate. Normally perennial ryegrass will germinate in 7 to 10 days, but it will probably take closer to 14 days or longer at this time of the year.

The negative to overseeding is having to water the lawn on a daily basis until you get the seed to germinate and start growing. I am afraid the dogs will do more damage if the soil is kept wet for an extended period of time. This is what makes this decision hard. Regardless, I would recommend going ahead and applying the ryegrass seed.

Be sure and apply a starter fertilizer with the ryegrass seed.

James McAfee, Extension Turfgrass Specialist




Question:
Since there seems to be no remedy to eliminate nematodes on Floratam sod, what types of grasses might be planted in plugs or seed among the Floratam to restructure my lawn?

Answer:
It seems as this is yet another "problem" involved in living in the sandy environment of Wilson County! These responses have been received from turfgrass specialists in Dallas:

From Dr. Jim McAfee: "I don't know of any turfgrasses that won't potentially have a problem with nematodes. In my experience, it seems bermudagrass has more problems with nematodes than say St. Augustinegrass or Centipedegrass. I have seen nematodes in zoysiagrass, but don't know how big an issue it is in zoysia.

Generally, we don't see that much of a problem with nematodes in Texas, because the majority of our soils are heavy clay and nematodes are most active in the sandy soils."

And from Dr. Kevin Ong: "The word is that there are no turfgrasses that are resistant to all kinds of nematodes. However, various lines of turf seemed to do better than others in being tolerant of nematodes - ie. Less nematode problems are noticed on newer St. Augustine releases than on older ones. Best bet is to maintain practices that keep the lawn healthy and have vigorous root growth to overcome/tolerate nematode infestation."

I recommend you overseed this St. Augustine with cereal rye (Elbon) which is a trap crop for nematodes. We usually don't recommend overseeding St. Augustine but I don't think you have anything to lose--especially in the bare spots. After the rye sprouts and begins to grow, mow it every two or three weeks. See also http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/PLANTanswers/earthkind/ekgarden26.html






Question:
My Bermuda - tif lawn is suffering from what appears to be Take all patch fungus. I have tried organic fungicides to no real avail. My plan is to during the summer, water it very little, basically watch it die, and in the fall, de-thatch (which it now has and is a big problem), use a chemical fungicide, and overseed with LaPrima Bermuda grass. I know the new seed will not bloom until the next spring. Does this seem like a sound approach? If so, can you recommend a fungicide to kill TARR, and is the fall the best time to kill TARR, and overseed the lawn for the spring?


Answer:
See the article at http://www.plantanswers.com/root_rot_fungus.htm on the control of TARR. Top dressing with a low pH material such as sphagnum peat has proven to be more effective than the use of fungicides. Overseeding with any bermudagrass seed in the late fall would be a waste of your money. It will not germinate until the soil temperature is consistently in the high 70's and would either rot or feed the birds before that happens. Or if the soil temperature is warm enough for it to germinate and we get freezing temperatures before it is well established, it would be killed.



Question:
My St. Augustine is suffering badly from the extreme heat and lack of water. I am living by the watering rules at once per week but we are about to go into Stage 3. I am considering overseeding one section of the lawn in particular with common Bermuda. This grass was planted 15 years ago on only about 2-3 inches of soil without any amendments. In other words it was planted almost directly on limestone.

Answer:
Right now I would not do anything other than try to keep what grass you have alive. Certainly it is not the time to try to start Bermuda from seed. Unless you are willing to bring in enough top soil to bring the average depth up to about 6 inches, you should consider plants or hardscape other than grass.



Question:
I intend to overseed my lawn. Do I need to aerate and dethatch the old lawn to reseed with winter rye or just aerate and do I need to mix the rye with a fescue blend?

Answer:
Since I don't know what grass you are overseeding I can't give you much of an answer. The rye seeds need to be in contact with the ground in order to germinate. If you have to dethatch in order for that to happen, then it is recommended. I am assuming that your grass has gone dormant and you are doing this for winter color. The rye alone will give you that.



 


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