Establishment/renovation of cool season turfs
Barton County Extension Agent
Most of us get “lawn-fever” in the early spring after having been cooped up inside all winter waiting for the cold weather to subside. On the other hand, by September you may be growing weary of yard work. But hang on folks, now is the time to plant a new cool-season turf, or rejuvenate a “tired,” thin one. Here are some tips:
If you are planning to establish a new cool-season lawn from seed, plant it as soon as possible! September is the best time to seed cool-season species, because weed competition is reduced, air temperatures are cooling, and soil temperatures are still warm for rapid germination.
First, get rid of undesirable perennial grasses like bermudagrass, if they are present, by spraying glyphosate (Roundup). Two applications, 7 days apart, may be required (you still may not get all the bermuda, but this is the best time to try!). Wait 4 to 5 days after the last glyphosate application before seeding. Sow tall fescue and perennial ryegrass at 6 to 8lbs./1000 square feet, and Kentucky bluegrass at 2 to 3 lbs./1000 sq ft.
Trust me, if you want cool season grass in our area, fescue will be your best bet over the “long haul.”
Use good quality seed of improved cultivars. We used to really study the individual varieties, but the Kansas Premium blend that most seed suppliers handle have a mixture of several of the best tested ones. If you don’t care about texture and are a low maintenance person, the old K-31 is not bad and is durable, but less eye appealing.
Be sure to keep the seed constantly moist until germination (if weather is hot, you will need to water several times per day). The young seedlings also will require frequent irrigation until they are well-established. Water daily at first, then gradually return to a normal watering schedule. This is the opposite of what we tell you about watering an established lawn.
Apply a starter fertilizer at the time of seeding, then apply an additional pound of nitrogen/1000 sq ft, 4 to 6 weeks after the seedlings have emerged. For phosphorus and potassium, we recommend you take a soil test. You will need to take several samples to a depth of 4-6″. Mix these together and bring one pint of soil for your sample. We send these to K-State and then I make the recommendations.
Probably the biggest factors for success are to provide good seed to soil contact by roughing up the soil surface and then keeping the seed wet.
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