Super Tips: Lawn Care Advice from a Golf Course Superintendent

Pete Dye Course at French Lick
Do you ever look at a golf course and say "Gee, I wish my lawn looked that good"--if so, you are not alone. Today guest blogger  Russ Apple, Golf Course Superintendent at The Pete Dye Course, will share some insider tips for homeowners who are suffering from lawn envy. Take it away, Russ...

Spring has sprung and flowers are in bloom. Today's high is just 48 degrees but warmer temperatures are on tap for this weekend.  If you are like most people, you will be itching to get outdoors and start cleaning up the yard. I have a few tips to help spruce up your lawn.

Assess the Situation
2010 was a hard year to grow grass in the Midwest, especially home lawns. The summer of 2010 was one of the hottest and longest we have had in many years. As fall started to roll around we cooled down, but many areas remained in drought conditions until it was too late to seed. So depending on how well you weathered 2010 will determine if you "Feel the Need, The Need To Seed."

If you had a rough year and you "Feel the Need to Seed," I recommend a blend of Turf-Type Tall Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass(90-10 mixture by weight). Turf-Type Tall Fescue has great drought resistance and the Kentucky Bluegrass is essential for turf recovery. If you want to do spring seeding, now is the time (March thru April). At seeding, apply a starter fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 1-2-1. Higher amounts of Phosphorous are essential for turf establishment. Be sure to read the label and calibrate your spreader before you make any applications.

Controlling Weeds
If you are seeding your lawn, you want to wait until you have mowed at least two to three times before you make any herbicide applications. The two main areas of focus for weed control are annual grasses (like crabgrass) and broadleaves (like clover and dandelion).

For annual grassy weeds, you want to make an application of a preemergence herbicide. I recommend using a fertilizer that is combined with the active ingredient dithiopyr for this application. Make this application after at least two mowings of new seedlings and before May 1. This is why it is important to seed as early as possible for spring seeding. Herbicides that have the active ingredient quinclorac can be used if you have some breakthrough of crabgrass.

When controlling broadleaves, I recommend buying a good application nozzle for your garden hose. The one I prefer allows you to use product that is in concentrated form. This provides an even application and it is cheaper to buy product in concentrated form. For hard to control weeds, look for products that contain triclopyr or fluroxpyr. It is important to read the label for rates and application instructions. The best time of year to control broadleaf weeds is late fall. If you can’t wait that long, the next best option is making applications April-June 1. Do not try to control weeds in July or August. Plant uptake is much more effective in the spring and fall.

Good luck and here’s hoping the grass is greener on your side!

Russ Apple
Golf Course Superintendent GCSAA
The Pete Dye Course at French Lick
Video: Russ talks about the Pete Dye Course