🍁 Get out your rake because leaves are gently tumbling from trees and piling up on lawns. Remove those pretty fall leaves off your warm season lawn so they don't smother it. This time of year, I'm out there every few days blowing them off before many accumulate. It's a good way to get in your steps!
Notes on Irrigating Warm Season Lawns in Autumn: Yep, irrigation at this time of year. It's been very dry and your warm season lawn may still need some watering to keep it healthy, even though Bermuda, Zoysia, and Centipede lawns are going dormant or about to go dormant. A time like this is when you need to become a lawn whisperer by observing your lawn's needs. Here are nuances to consider:
- If you have great soil and your turf has deep roots, you may need to provide very little (or no) supplemental watering because the evapotranspiration rate (water loss from leaves) is so low due to the mild temperatures. Just keep an eye on it.
- If your established lawn shows signs of drought stress, by all means, get out the sprinkler or turn on your irrigation. This is especially true in warmer areas where warm season lawns go dormant later in the season.
- Keep in mind when you're assessing for watering, that your lawn may have a half-asleep look that is merely your lawn going dormant - like in the picture at the top. Don't worry, it's normal for your warm season lawn to start to turn brown and go dormant during this time of year, especially if you get frosts that settle on it.
- Always keep new lawns watered until roots form. It's especially critical during a drought where there is no water provided from the heavens.
A word about sprinklers and frosts: Depending on your type of sprinkler and the degree of frost, you may need to drain and unhook it so it doesn't burst. A hard frost that lasts for hours under 28 degrees can damage hose-end sprinklers. Pop-up heads should be fine because they are insulated by the ground, but you may need to drain the system. I'm no sprinkler head or plumbing expert, and there are hundreds of different makes and models, so please follow manufacturer or installer instructions on how to "winterize" your irrigation system or hose-end sprinkler. I play it safe by draining my irrigation lines and bringing my hose-end sprinklers into the garage for winter.
I also bring in my cheap irrigation timers that I have attached to spigots, especially ones with batteries so I get more life out of them. The timers seem to last longer when brought in for the winter.
Jack Frost Trails
Let me introduce you to Jack Frost trails, a normal phenomenon this time of year. These trails pose no problem for your lawn, rather they are fascinating patterns left behind as cool air settles on ground that is still warm. To learn more about how Jack Frost trails happen, read Iris' blog post on Jack Frost Trails in Lawns.
Dean Pulley, from Super-Sod of Charlotte, NC, snapped this picture of Jack Frost trails at the store.
Fall Fungicide Application
If you haven't done so already, warm season lawns get an application of fungicide in the fall (once soil temps lower to 70 degrees) to help reduce the possibility of Large Patch. Remember an ounce of prevention in the fall is cheaper and easier than curing Large Patch in the spring!
Threat Downgraded Due to Frosts
Except in coastal and the most southernly areas, the majority of the Southeast will be getting a few nights of frosts this week, so Fall Armyworms are likely no longer an issue. If you're in a warmer, frost-free area, continue to keep an eye out for signs and symptoms. If you flush them out with a soap test, you can order lawn insecticide from us.
Order 5-10-30 with Acelepryn for pick up or delivery or check out our Champ Lawn Coach subscription where we'll send it to you every year.
- Don't fertilize! Do not fertilize, topdress, or aerate warm-season lawns anytime in the fall; wait until spring. Let your lawn go dormant. High nitrogen promotes tender new growth that can be damaged by frosts, so don't use high nitrogen fertilizers and save yourself the fright.
- Learn why Winterizers are not the best solution for lawns (and how they might actually damage them) in our latest blog, "Does Your Lawn Need Winterizer Weed & Feed, or Not?"
- Right now the best method to combat weeds is to mow them before they go to seed. Mowing is an effective way to suppress weeds because it cuts off flower/seed heads and that stops weeds from making more weeds, thus breaking the life cycle. If you have bad weeds, mow on a weekly routine and don't let the weeds get ahead of you.
- The window for applying pre-emergent herbicide is closed for the autumn. The next window will open in February when the Forsythia bushes flower - we'll send out an email alert at that time. Now is the time for post-emergent herbicides for weeds you can see now on all established lawns.
- For weeds you see now in established lawns, apply post-emergent liquid herbicides like Quincept and 3-Way Max. Read the label and follow instructions.
👍 Rule of Thumb: It's okay to apply a post-emergent liquid herbicide after you've mowed your new lawn 3 to 4 times.
- Pulling by Hand: If some weeds have escaped your pre-emergent routine and regular mowing, we recommend hand pulling to build up arm strength for cooking that big Thanksgiving meal.
- Mulch suppresses weed seeds in flower beds. Spread your favorite mulch 2-4" thick and keep it 1-2" away from touching the trunks or stems of your plants.
- Continue to mow warm season lawns at the recommended height until they go dormant. It's critical to keep up this practice to prevent leggy growth so that your lawn looks great next spring.
Come back next month for December's Lawn Tips for Warm Season lawns!
Got questions? Leave a comment below.
If you have a Tall Fescue lawn (the best cool season lawn for the Southeast), here are your lawn tips for November.
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