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Maintenance - Mowing

Okay, Warriors, so you’ve planted yourself some turfgrass.  Good job.  Now, how do you maintain it?  Well, stand at ease and listen up.  I don't want you to have a soup sandwich for a lawn.  So, I got your 6 with regard to caring for your new or improved lawn.  Can I get a Hooah from anyone out there?  Or, at least a HUA (Heard, Understood & Acknowledged)?  If you get sleepy during any of my briefings, go stand up in the back of the auditorium.
I'm not sure how I'm going to blog this topic just yet.  I'll just commence blogging operations and see how it goes.  I guess I'll keep adding to this post until I run out of things to say about this very important topic - things to say about MOWING!
Mowing is not taken seriously.  It is a critical, mission essential task.  Mowing affects all components of turfgrass quality: texture, density, color, uniformity and smoothness.  Mowing also affects the physiology.  Most of the photosynthetic process takes place in the leaves.  When you cut the leaves, carbohydrate production and storage are reduced.  When you lower your cutting height, you can increase the number and growth of shoots.  Yet, by lowering the cutting height, you reduce the photosynthetic area and root growth will be decreased.  Shoots have priority over roots for available carbohydrates.  So, lower heights produce shallower root systems.  Deep, thick root systems are necessary for survivability during times of environmental stress.
You want Turfgrass Dedication, Stimulation and Motivation?  Check out these Warriors:
The turfgrass patch to the left was located at the USAF Base at Al Udeid in Doha, Qatar.  Not bad for what looks like a cool season turfgrass in 135+ degree F summers.
The Turfgrass Warrior here is WO1 Brook Turner mowing (Well, cutting w/ scissors...) his turfgrass at a FOB (Forward Operating Base) north of Baghdad in 2004.
If these Turfgrass Warriors can do it in the desert, you can do it in CONUS.  Somebody get me my box of medals!

6 Comments to Maintenance - Mowing:

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Marc Meador on Friday, March 1, 2013 9:46 AM
Since spring is just around the corner am looking for some advice. Every year I fight to keep the weeds out of my lawn but I can't seem to get rid of crab grass. Can you recommend how I combat the Al Quaeda, nay, the mother of all weeds?
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Turfgrass Warrior on Friday, March 1, 2013 11:40 AM
Ladies and Gentlemen, We are truly honored today to have a post from this great warrior. Not only is he a great warrior, but he is the first to join us here at The Tuomey Turfgrass Blog. Marc asks a question that has plagued Turfgrass Warriors for centuries - CRABGRASS. Members of the Shang Dynasty military struggled with crabgrass as early as 1600 BC. The Egyptians, the Spartans, the Germans, the Mongols, the Slavs, the Aztecs, the Saxons, the Hittites, the Persians; they all have fought crabgrass. What can we do to fight this scourge? Well, bear in mind, without actually doing a site visit on your lawn and not having the benefits of some other analysis, such as a soil sample, I will provide some information on crabgrass first, then perhaps some tips. The most prevalent species of Digitaria in North America are Large Crabgrass (D. sanguinalis), sometimes known as Hairy Crabgrass; and Smooth Crabgrass (D. ischaemum ). These species often become problem weeds in lawns and gardens, growing especially well in lawns that are watered lightly, under fertilized, poorly drained, and growing thinly. They are annual plants, and one plant is capable of producing 150,000 seeds per season. The seeds germinate in the late spring and early summer and “out compete” the domesticated lawn grasses and expand outward in a circle up to 12 inches in diameter. In the fall when the plants die they leave large voids in the lawn. The voids then become prime areas for the crabgrass seeds to germinate the following season. Think of crabgrass like this: Crabgrass is not the cause of poor lawn health; it is a symptom of poor lawn health. Crabgrass will return annually if the lawn health is not improved by fertilization and proper watering. Crabgrass is quickly outcompeted by a healthy lawn permanently because as an annual plant, crabgrass dies off in fall and needs open soil without other vegetation for the germination of its seeds the next spring to survive. Here are some management or cultural tips: Mowing height – as I always say, “HIGH AND SLOW”. You know, for most of the growing seasons in northern Virginia, I mow my lawn at the “carry” height of my mower deck? I’m not kidding. The highest possible setting. And, go slow. Let sharp blades and the highest blade speed possible do all the work. High cut turf provides deep root systems. Species selection – Select a turfgrass which will really flourish in your area. Crabgrass is not very “competitive”. A vigorous turfgrass species will “crowd out” crabgrass. Fertilization – Fertilize early in the growth periods but when the turf is actively growing. Apply 2 to 4 pounds nitrogen per 1000 square feet each year to create a dense lawn and reduce crabgrass populations. For best results, do what I do. Apply 60-100% of the nitrogen in two applications in Fall: one in September and one in November after the final mowing. Avoid applications of nitrogen in summer. That can burn a lawn and/or increase crabgrass vigor. Irrigation - Overwatered turf or turf that receives daily, light irrigation becomes weak and vulnerable to invasion by this weed. Irrigate deeply and infrequently. Daily, light irrigations promote shallow rooting, non-drought hardy turf, and encourage crabgrass. Water to wet the soil to the depth of rooting, and then do not water again until you see the first sign of drought stress (When drought stressed, turf will become bluish gray and footprints will remain in the turf after it is walked on.). Mulch – if you have beds where your flowers and/or shrubs (ornamentals) are, make sure they are adequately mulched. If you have crabgrass in your beds, it can easily spread to your lawn. Finally, there is chemical control - Often, cultural control alone will not control crabgrass satisfactorily, and herbicides may be needed. This is especially true in new lawns or lawns that are thin from damage or improper maintenance. When using herbicides or pesticides, be sure to read, understand, and follow all label recommendations. Crabgrass can be selectively controlled in turfgrass areas by judicious use of preemergence or postemergence herbicides. Timing is important for herbicide application. The best time for preemergence application of herbicides in this region is late April or early May. Postemergence herbicides can be used when crabgrass is in the 2- to 5-leaf stage. Repeat applications may be required depending upon the treatments. Use caution when seeding a new lawn, or if over seeding, in the spring. Only use a crabgrass preemergent control containing siduron as it will not kill desirable grass seeds (other crabgrass preemergent controls will). I have had some success with Scotts Turf Builder w/ Halts Crabgrass Preventer. The really needs to go down NOW (FEB through APR)! Do not use for dichondra or bentgrass lawns. Preemergence Herbicides Preemergence herbicides prevent emergence of crabgrass plants. These products must be applied prior to crabgrass emergence which could occur as early as April 1st. University of Georgia research has shown that these herbicides can be applied as early as March 1 and still be effective all season. It is essential to apply these products early in spring prior to crabgrass germination. Often, preemergence herbicides are combined with fertilizers as weed and feed products. Since fertilization should be minimized in the spring, purchase products with most of the nitrogen in slow release forms such as methylene ureas or sulfur or polymer-coated ureas. Avoid products with mostly quick release nitrogen such as urea or ammonical nitrogen. Do not use preemergence herbicides on new seedlings or before seeding an area. To be most effective, these products need to be watered-in after application. Refer to the label for specific instructions of each product. Common Names of Preemergence Herbicides Benefin Oxadiazon Benefi n/Trifl uralin Pendimethalin Dithiopyr Prodiamine Corn Gluten Postemergence Herbicides Postemergence herbicides control crabgrass after it has emerged and are most effective on small crabgrass plants. These products are more difficult to use than preemergence herbicides and it is extremely important to follow label instructions. Of the products listed below, quinclorac is safest for turfgrass seedlings. Keep in mind the following when using these products: • Be sure to read, understand and follow all herbicide label directions for the safest, most effective weed control. • The area must be well-watered prior to application and not under drought stress. • Do not mow or water for 24 hours following application. • Apply at temperatures below 85º F. These products are most effective on clear days with low humidity. • A second application may be needed within seven days for most effective control. • Refer to the label for use before and after seeding. Common Names of Postemergence Herbicides MSMA (Monosodium methyl arsonate) DSMA (Disodium methyl arsonate) Dithiopyr (only effective on crabgrass seedlings) Fenoxaprop Quinclorac So, Marc, in summary, do not attempt to control crabgrass with herbicides after mid-July because crabgrass plants are usually too large to control effectively. It is better to simply tolerate the crabgrass until it dies with the first frost. By maintaining a dense lawn, you can limit the amount of crabgrass. Proper fertility, mowing, and irrigation is essential for crabgrass control; consider herbicidal control only if necessary. I hope that answers your question. Since you are the first blog poster, you qualify for a Tuomey Turgrass T-shirt, coffee mug and pen. Thanks.

Marc Meador on Friday, March 1, 2013 12:44 PM
Pre-emergents down now? You, sir, are the Lord of Lawns. The guru of green. I was always told that they should go down in the spring just as forsythias started to bloom. If I had waited, I would have been fighting weeds all year. TO add a twist to my problem, my crab grass issues only seems to happen right next to the street between the side walk in front of my home and the road. I will heed your advice and attack the problem this weekend.
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Turfgrass Warrior on Friday, March 1, 2013 12:58 PM
That's affirmative, Marc. Now is good. Don't think of air temperature. Think of soil temperature. Pre-emergent applications should be made when soil temperatures are still below 50 degrees F for the best prevention of crabgrass. Once the seeds start to germinate, or have germinated, pre-emergent controls will not be effective. Lawns next to sidewalks and driveways are particularly susceptible to crabgrass infestations. Lawns next to these hard surfaces are often times stressed because of the increased heat the surfaces create. Sometimes even when preemergents have been properly applied, you may notice crabgrass growing along these hard surfaces if heavy rains fell in the spring after applying the control. The heavy rains are multiplied along the driveways and sidewalks, enough so to wash away the protective layer of the pre-emergent. There are some products that can be used to kill crabgrass after it sprouts and becomes noticeable. Whether you opt for to spot treat for this depends on how big of an infestation you have.
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Lawn treatment franchise on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 7:56 AM
I must say that overall I am really impressed with this blog. It is easy to see that you are impassioned about your writing. I wish I had got your ability to write. Thanks for sharing.Pre-emergents down now? You, sir, are the Lord of Lawns. The guru of green. I was always told that they should go down in the spring just as forsythias started to bloom. If I had waited, I would have been fighting weeds all year. TO add a twist to my problem, my crab grass issues only seems to happen right next to the street between the side walk in front of my home and the road. I will heed your advice and attack the problem this weekend.
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Turfgrass Warrior on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 12:08 PM
Dear Lawn Hopper, Thanks so much for the very kind words. I try really hard to make this blog fun and informative. Keep checking back for new posts. Maybe post some info about lawns in the UK. Get some discussion going. I find it interesting that you all use the term "scarification". Not frequently used here in the US. Cheers, TW

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