Ag Notes: Don't take a vacation from lawn care just yet

September 02, 2003|JERRY LITTLE

As the days of summer wind down, you might be thinking about a long rest from lawn care.

But don't take that vacation just yet, or if you do, make it a short one, because fall is a good time to take care of weeds, remove leaves and fertilize grass.

Fall is the best time of the year to control such broadleaf weeds as dandelion, plantain, chickweed, henbit and clover. These weeds are actively growing in the fall, making them easier to control.

And since grass also is actively growing during this time, it will fill in spaces the weeds formerly occupied.

Another reason to use fall broadleaf weed control is that winds usually are calmer this time of year so there is less chance of herbicide drift.


Also, there are fewer sensitive plants in the yard that might be injured by drift or herbicide volatility.

You shouldn't depend on frost for weed control because it only stunts or kills the tops, not the crowns and roots.

It's important to remove leaves because they shade grass and this prevents the growth of new grass plants.

Although you can chop leaves with a lawnmower, it's best to remove them because accumulation of chopped leaves hurts new grass plant and stem development.

Rather than send the leaves you've removed to the landfill, add them to your compost pile.

Fall also is an important time to properly mow and fertilize your grass.

You should keep mowing grass as long as it's growing. Mow it shorter in the fall because grass should be no more than two inches tall going into the winter.

Grass that's too tall often flops over and smothers itself out, causing you to lose up to one-half the grass density.

Mowing grass shorter and fertilizing it in the fall produces a more lush lawn.

The short grass allows more light to penetrate. This, plus a high-nitrogen fertilizer, produces new grass plants that thicken your lawn. It also will produce earlier growth and green up next spring.

To increase lawn density without excessive top growth, apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer, making two applications six to eight weeks apart before the end of December.

Apply the fertilizer at the rate of 1 1/2 pounds of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.

The percentage of nitrogen is the first number in the analysis on the fertilizer bag.

So, when using ammonium nitrate (33-0-0) you'd apply 4 1/2 pounds per 1,000 square feet because 3 pounds of 33 percent nitrogen is the equivalent of 1 pound of actual nitrogen. With a 10-10-10 fertilizer, you'd apply 15 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

For more information, contact the Boyle County Cooperative Extension Service. We have several publications on lawn care.

At church

One Sunday morning, the pastor noticed little Alex was staring up at the large plaque that hung in the foyer of the church. It was covered with names and small American flags were mounted on either side of them.

The 7-year-old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up, stood beside the little boy, and said quietly, "Good morning, Alex."

"Good morning, pastor," replied the boy, still focused on the plaque.

"Pastor, what is this?"

"Well, son, it's a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service."

Soberly, they stood together, staring at the large plaque.

Little Alex's voice was barely audible, trembling with fear, when he asked, "Which service, the 9:45 or the 11:15?"

Jerry Little is Boyle County extension agent for agriculture and natural resources.

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