Lawns and other turf recovering from stressful July

The record-breaking heat has taken a toll on many turf areas, causing crabgrass and weeds. Here are some tips in helping your turf recover and prepare for fall.

The cooler temperatures the last week have certainly been welcome relief from the record heat and humidity of July. Many turf areas across the state including home lawns, golf courses, athletic fields and commercial properties have turf that is looking less than stellar following the heat of the last month.

Earlier this year, many thought that with very cool temperatures of spring and early summer that it might be a down year for crabgrass. Well, not surprisingly, once the heat surged in July the crabgrass let it be known that it would not be denied another bountiful summer of growth and prosperity. In addition to crabgrass, the voids in turf have resulted in numerous other weeds finding homes including black medic, oxalis, dandelion, white clover, birdsfoot trefoil, yellow nutsedge, chicory and Canada thistle. In addition, I’ve also been noticing that my new white sneakers have been sporting a nice, brownish-orange look after walking through areas where rust is starting to infest the turf.

The 10-day forecast looks like temperatures are going to stay moderate with highs in the 70s and low 80s and, more importantly, nighttime temperatures in the 60s. These temperatures will spur turfgrass growth and recovery from the summer stress.

A couple tips to help your turf recover and compete with weeds for what’s left of summer as we move into fall.

  • If your lawn is looking weak, now would be the time to consider a fertilizer application to ensure the turf has the nutrition it needs to recover and grow into the fall.

  • Sharpen the mower blades. It’s been a long season of mowing, so sharpen the blades now before entering the fall mowing season. A sharp blade results in a cleaner cut that helps the turf heal quicker than a ragged cut.

  • If the turf has been infested with crabgrass, a herbicide application to check it may be worth your while as this will allow the turf to compete better as we move into fall.

  • For broadleaf weed problems, the most effective herbicide applications will be applied in late September or early October.

Dr. Frank’s work is funded in part by MSU‘s AgBioResearch.

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