Turf Tip: Aeration

Here is Thursday's Turf Tip on Aeration. I hired one of the Milo's Turf Tips sponsors, Fert-L-Lawn, to do it for me. Cost-wise, I don't think it was much more to hire it done as opposed to getting a rental. By the time you factor in the rental cost and your time in doing it yourself, it seemed like a pretty good deal.

Here's a bonus video segment. This is Steve talking about why aeration is also good if you have a problem with nightcrawlers.

I seeded in the dead spot in my lawn and the area where I killed off some undesirable grass variety. I give you a progress report on that in the days ahead.


Time to Fertilize

I should have posted this information from Steve Sagaser before the long holiday weekend. In this video clip, he says it's now warmed up enough to make it worthwhile to fertilize. Many people rush to put down fertilizer as soon as the snow melts, but Steve says that's a bit of a waste. Your lawn didn't need the nutrients early in the season, but now it can use a shot.

Dandelion Update

The Trimec I used last week appears to be doing its job. The dandelions in my yard are starting to wither. I applied it will a garden hose sprayer set to one ounce per gallon. I did go in Monday and spot spray a few weeds that didn't seem to be showing many signs of going down. I don't know if I missed them or if I was moving too quickly and they didn't get hit with enough product. In the image at left, you see a plant that is dying off.

The plant at the right was doing better, so I hit it again. It was showing a few signs, but was careful to spot spray only the plant, so I figured it was okay to make sure.

On Thursday's Turf Tips on WDAZ News at 5, I'll be talking about the benefits of aerating your lawn, something I've not done before in the 10 years I've lived in my home so I'm overdue!


Dandelions! (Updated with video)

It seems like dandelions have over-run Grand Forks in just the last few days. The picture at right is from my backyard and is just a small sample of what's there. Steve Sagaser, NDSU Extension Horticulturist, tells me that the best thing you can do is try to keep your dandelions from going to seed. The dandelions that we are seeing now, germinated and grew from last year’s seed. If they go to seed again this year, the problem can compound very quickly!

Steve suggested that I get a product called Trimec. I purchased some today, but it was too windy to spray it, plus I need to mow for the first time before applying. I'll let you know how well it works. Steve says Trimec contains three different weed herbicides and will be very effective in controlling dandelions along with any other broadleaf weeds in my turf. He says weeds are at a vulnerable stage right now because of their rapid growth in the spring; consequently, they will be quick to absorb the herbicide which will make for a quick killing action.

I asked Steve about dandelions and he says it's the number one phone call they've been getting at the Extension Office. Here's what he had to say:

Here's an web article that talks about pulling dandelions. If you have more than a few, it might be a lost cause. You'll also find more information about herbicides and some natural remedies.

Here's the NDSU Extension page on controlling weeds.


Reader has question about her uneven lawn

Lindsey from Bismarck, ND, has this question about her lawn:

We just moved into our home last fall. The previous owners planted the grass without leveling and flattening the ground. Our lawn has tire tracks, low spots, and is very uneven. Is there any way to flatten out the soil without starting from scratch with the grass? Is it possible to add dirt to the top and just add seed? What are our options?

Steve Sagaser, NDSU Extension Service Horticulturist, replies:
Yes you can add soil. However if you add more than one inch of soil at a time, you run the risk of killing the existing grass by “smothering” it. An option is to add an inch of soil, let the grass grow up through it and re-establish, then add another inch; this process can be done multiple times but it stretches out the time it will take for you to get your lawn re-leveled. Or, you can simply begin filling in and firming up the low spots, when you have an established grade, re-seed the grass; it will most likely have a patchy appearance from where the low spots were filled in with soil. Lightly rake the seed into the new soil then cover it with a thin layer of (1/4 – 1/2”) of grass clippings or some other biodegradable mulch. Then water it lightly for about three weeks. After the first three weeks, water it every other day for three more weeks. After the first six weeks your new grass will need some fertilizer.
Cut back on the frequency of the watering to no more than once or twice per week and make sure that your lawn gets about an inch total of water per week.


Turf Tip 2 (Extended Version)

Here's a Director's cut of the Turf Tip that aired on WDAZ News @5. In this longer version, Steve talks more at the end about why you should wait longer than 24 hours after applying Roundup before you try to plant seed.

In this next clip, I ask Steve about whether I need to till up this area or not.

Soil temperatures a half-inch down in Grand Forks on Tuesday were only 40 degrees, so it's still a little early to apply pre-emergent herbicide. This warm weather should certainly help a lot. I'll keep you posted.

Reader Question Answered!

Tom S. of Grand Forks emailed me this question:

When you get together with the experts can you find out why I have 1 ft. - 3 ft. patches of completely dead areas in my lawn. There doesn't seem to be a reason for why or where they are located. My neighbors seem to have the same issues and they don't have a clue either.

Here's NDSU Extension Service Horticulturist Steve Sagaser's response.

In most cases these spots are caused from Pink Snowmold. Cool wet weather in the fall and again in the spring causes snowmold to develop. Usually the crowns (area of the plant next to the soil) of the grass plant are not killed and they will recover on their own. Homeowners should use a leaf rake to remove the dead grass, and if they want to, they can sprinkle some seed on the bare soil. Sprinkling a light layer of peat over the new seed will protect it and help to get germination started. Daily light waterings are needed until the new grass plants are about three weeks old. If no seeding is done, the grass will probably still recover on its own although it will take a few weeks for that to happen.

Email your questions to me at msmith@wdaz.com and I'll find the experts to answer them.


Still Waiting

Wow! It's really slow going in the growing department in Grand Forks. If it feels to you like it does to me that Spring is taking it's own sweet time getting going, the facts back up our instincts.

Climatology reports on the National Weather Service website show that our daily average temperature this month is more than 7.5 degrees below normal. If you look at the chart, you'll notice that we've had some decent daytime temperatures, but the overnight lows have been brutal. Our lowest low came on the night of May 5th when it got down to 20 degrees! The next day we had our highest high of 69. Those cold overnights (and Saturday's snow!?!?!) are really slowing down the growth of my lawn. WDAZ Storm Tracker Meteorologist John Wheeler is promising some warmer weather for the rest of this week. So hopefully, we can start doing more with our yards soon.

On this week's TV Turf Tips, I'll be looking at what needs to be done to fix a bare spot in my backyard. So look for that Thursday on WDAZ News at 5. I'll also update this website before then. So keep checking back.

P.S. Check out the wind speeds so far this month. No wonder those sixty degree days didn't feel all that warm. The peak wind gust was above 25 miles an hour all but two days so far in May. Like I said, WOW!


What can you do?

What should you be doing right now?


First Video Turf Tip

This is the first Turf Tips report that aired Thursday at Five.
Look for additional videos soon that you won't see on WDAZ.


Start Up

We'll be launching our first Milo's Turf Tips segment on the TV side tomorrow night (May 8) on WDAZ News @ 5. It will be an overview of what kind of shape my lawn is in. Steve Sagaser with NDSU Extension gave my lawn the once-over today. He sees some of the same problems I do (maybe more), but he seems to think we can turn it around. Unfortunately, he says it will take some work! Oh well, tune in tomorrow night and check back here for more lawn tips. BTW, the information from the previous post is still good. It's just been too cold at night and too cool during the day to get grass growing too much. Don't rush into doing too much with your lawn right now. Steve tells me it's even too early to put down a pre-emergent herbicide. It will lose its effectiveness before soil temperatures warm up enough to start weed growth. So relax for now. There will be plenty of work ahead once it warms up a bit.