CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Temperatures are starting to cool. What should you do to your lawn to ensure a green, glorious spring?
Correcting the soil's pH should be done now. Check with your county extension agent for test kits or purchase them from a local garden center. If the soil test shows a need to reduce acidity, apply lime now. If your lawn is too alkaline, apply sulfur.
Dethatch. Rake up those compacted clippings. Rent an aerator to help loosen the soil. Rake those leaves that fall -- or run over them with a mulching mower to make sure they don't smother your grass.
There are two main types of grass: cool-season and warm-season. The cool-season grasses are bluegrasses, bentgrasses, fescues and ryegrasses. Warm-season turf types include bermudagrass, Saint-Augustinegrass, zoysiagrass and buffalograss.
Cool-season grasses need lots of water in the fall, and they need 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn, applied sometime between September and November. If you're using a natural organic fertilizer like dehydrated poultry waste, you can double the rate. Also, double the rate for nonorganic fertilizers if this is the only time of year you fertilize, or if you fertilize just one other time in the early summer. Turf grass must be green when nitrogen is applied. Make sure the soil is moist so the nitrogen will dissolve easily.
Lin Diacont, president of the Virginia Green Industry Council, says if you don't fertilize, your lawn will gradually thin and weeds may invade. Proper and timely fertilization can be good for both your lawn and the environment. There is less chance for nutrient and soil runoff to surface waters from a healthy stand of grass than bare soil or thin grass. Healthy lawns will have less disease, insect and weed problems, reducing the need for pesticide applications. Well-maintained lawns look appealing and are more wear-tolerant.
Don't fertilize warm-season grasses in the fall. They harden off in the winter, and fertilizing will interrupt this process.
Kanawha County Fair
Kanawha County Extension Agent John Porter is reintroducing open exhibits for people to show off their produce, flowers, home canning, quilts and crafts at the Kanawha County Fair, Sept. 10-13 at Camp Virgil Tate.
This year's county fair, thanks to the folks at the extension office, is looking more and more like a traditional fair. There will be lectures by Porter ("Preparing Your Garden and Landscape for Winter"), and by agent Brenda Porter ("Preserving Food Safely") as well as "Agriculture in the Classroom," beekeeping demonstrations, forestry and tree leaf identifications, rabbit judging, apple butter making and a pie bakeoff.