Shape up your lawn with these steps

By Todd Vineyard | Published Wednesday, May 4, 2016

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This is the time of year I encounter a number of people with questions about their lawns.

One thing people always wonder about is the timing of fertilizer application. The rule of thumb is to fertilize after you have mowed two to three times.

Due to a cooler spring and the irregular weather we experienced in March and April, the growth of most of our turf grasses has been slowed considerably.

Understand that I mean turf grasses, not the winter ryegrass and rescue grass we see growing like wild. Unfortunately, we can’t do anything for those now; but, the good news is when the heat does get here, they will go away.

If you are already needing to mow, that indicates the turf is actively growing and is therefore ready for that first application. I would recommend taking a soil sample to see exactly what your lawn needs. If you don’t, products with a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio would most likely do a good job.

Apply it at a rate of 1 pound per 1,000 square feet of turf. The popular weed-and-feed products are not a good idea since your weed control should have been applied weeks ago.

If you are having major weed problems, give me a call or bring in a sample, and we’ll come up with a plan for your yard.

Another question that comes up regularly is concerning dead areas in the turf.

There can be many causes of dead spots. One thing you need to consider: can these dead spots be lifted by hand and or rolled up like carpet? If so, your lawn may have been damaged by white grubs.

White grubs are simply the larval stage of the May or June beetle. Hundreds of them are emerging in my neighborhood every day. These root-feeding grubs are creamy-white and c-shaped with three pairs of legs.

Their damage normally occurs during the summer and early fall. They feed on grass roots and the damaged areas begin to show up as weakened or dying grass in irregular shapes. Eventually, if the population and damage is severe, these areas will die.

To locate grubs, dig with a spade or shovel to a depth of at least 4 inches. Finding three to five grubs per square spot suggests an insecticide treatment is needed. Apply control in June or July and use a product that contains imidacloprid, halofenozide, trichlorfon or carbaryl.

Be sure to read and follow label directions. For those interested in non-chemical control, beneficial nematodes can be purchased in garden centers or through garden supply catalogs. Research shows that under good conditions, commercially-available nematodes can reduce white grub populations by up to 50 percent. There are several good products available locally.

If you would like a list of grub control products, call 940-627-3341 or come by the Extension office, 206 S. State St., in Decatur. You can also visit the Aggie-Turf website,

Todd Vineyard is a Wise County Extension agent.

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