By mid-to-late June, it’s not uncommon for nuisance grasses to propagate in otherwise healthy, beautiful lawns. Reasons are many & solutions are few. Why? The biology of nuisance grass is very similar to that of desirable grass. Finding a product that effectively controls one without harming the other is not always possible. Three common nuisance grasses:
CRABGRASS – an annual grass that germinates in early summer & thrives in the heat. It can be found throughout a lawn but usually grows near edges where there’s more stress. Pre-emergent herbicide applied by mid-April offers 70%-90% control. After crabgrass emerges, it can be difficult to control. Fortunately it doesn’t like cold & will succumb to the first frost of autumn.
NUTSEDGE – technically not a grass but a close relation, the blades have a triangular shape & are light-green in color. Nutsedge tends to grow at a faster rate than turf grass. After mowing, you may notice it growing twice as fast as the lawn around it. Nutsedge favors water-logged soil & warm temperatures, two common conditions in the Treasure Valley. If possible, adjust your sprinkler system to reduce soil saturation. Nutsedge is a thirsty plant! Post-emergent control is available, though multiple treatments are sometimes needed.
TALL FESCUE – though sometimes used as stand-alone turf grass, tall fescue looks clumpy when growing in other grasses. The most common prescription is to spray the clumps with a non-selective herbicide to kill it to the roots (& any other lawn you happen to spray), amend the soil, & reseed or re-sod. If it’s spread throughout a lawn, it might be time to start over.
In addition to these nuisance grasses, you might notice others in Boise lawns. Creeping bentgrass, for example, is used on golf courses but doesn’t work well in ornamental lawns. It requires much more care & tends to wither in the heat if not cut very short & watered heavily. There’s also quackgrass, barnyard grass, foxtail grass, & others. With virtually all nuisance grasses, the first course of action is to meet the basic needs of the lawn:
- Mow weekly using a sharp blade to 2.5″-3.5″ in height. Mulch clippings if possible.
- Water frequently enough to keep the upper 6″ of soil moist but never saturated or dry. Check coverage frequently to ensure heads & nozzles are delivering water evenly over the lawn. This is particularly important at the edges. Don’t forget to increase your program as summer warms up.
- Fertilize every 6-8 weeks. Though approximately 1 lb of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet is typical, you can adjust up or down by 30% based on the condition of the lawn upon application. If it’s thick, green, & growing heavily, you can reduce your application rate. If it’s thin, lime green, & barely growing, a slightly heavier dose of fertilizer may be needed. Pro Care’s Professional Applicators make these adjustments when working under our Lawn Treatment Programs on residential, commercial, & retail properties.
These steps can be compared to taking care of one’s own body. Proper diet, hydration, & exercise go a long way in reducing the occurrences of diseases & illness. Same can be said in plant health care.
Suspect nuisance grass in your lawn? Email us a picture at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to help you identify it & find a solution.