Tall fescue is the most widely grown cool-season species in North Carolina. For a cool-season species, tall fescue is tolerant to heat and drought, disease resistant, and persists with minimum care. It has a tendency to clump due to its bunch-type growth habit and may need to be re-seeded each year in areas that exhibit thin growth patterns due to excessive summer stresses. Tall fescue is easily confused with Kentucky bluegrass, annual ryegrass, and perennial ryegrass. However, Kentucky bluegrass has a boat-shaped leaf tip and distinctive light-colored lines on both sides of the midrib. Tall fescue has rolled vernation in the leaf bud and perennial ryegrass has folded vernation. Also, tall fescue has rough leaf blade margins whereas annual and perennial ryegrass have smooth ones. Tall fescue and perennial ryegrass both have non-clasping auricles, whereas annual ryegrass has clasping auricles. The backside of the tall fescue leaf blade is less glossy than that of annual ryegrass.
lawn Maintenance for September - November
Core lawns subject to heavy traffic or on clay soils to minimize compaction and improve rooting. Break up plugs.
The best way to determine your lawn's nutrient needs is by a soil test. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture, Agronomic Division, provides free soil testing. In the absence of a soil test, use a complete nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (N-P-K) turf-grade fertilizer with a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio (that is, 12-4-8 or 16-4-8). Fertilize with 1 pound of actual nitrogen (N) per thousand square feet in mid-September and again in November (about the time the grass is green but not actively growing).
Check for white grubs in September and October; fall is the ideal time to control white grubs.
Follow watering guidelines for March through May.
Mow to 2 ½ to 3 inches in height. Remember grasscycling and leave clippings on the lawn.
Piedmont and Coastal Plain Regions Only! (See June-August for western region.) Overseed thin, bare areas as grass begins to respond to cooler temperatures in September and early October. Use a blend of tall fescue cultivars at 6 pounds per thousand square feet. Apply a starter-type (high phosphorus) fertilizer at time of seeding. Keep the seedbed moist with light, frequent sprinklings several times a day to ensure good germination.
It is not necessary to remove thatch.
Apply broadleaf herbicides to control dandelions and other weeds if necessary. Caution: Some herbicides may affect newly seeded turf. Follow label directions.
athletic Maintenance for September - November
Apply 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet in September and again in November when the grass is still green but not actively growing (Refer to Table 1).
Sample the soil to determine phosphorus, potassium, and lime requirements. Obtain test kits from your county Cooperative Extension agent or from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Agronomic Division, 4300 Reedy Creek Rd., Raleigh, NC 27607-6465. Apply lime as suggested by the soil test, but do not apply more than 50 pounds per 1,000 square feet per application. To apply more than 50 pounds per 1,000 square feet, put down split applications at least 4 weeks apart. If possible, apply lime just before soil coring to ensure deeper movement into the soil.
Use a complete N-P-K fertilizer to supply the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium suggested on the soil-test report. This promotes deep rooting and healthier plants. Table 1 gives examples of several fertilizers and the rates needed to supply 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet, which is 43.5 pounds of nitrogen per acre. Use Table 2 to determine the fertilizer needed for fields of various sizes. Your county Cooperative Extension agent can help with proper fertilizer selection based on the soil test and, if necessary, a closer determination of the acreage to be fertilized.
|Fertilizer Analysis||Pounds of Product|
|per 1,000 sq. ft.||per acre|
How much fertilizer do you need to buy to apply 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet? Divide 100 by the FIRST number in the fertilizer analysis. For example, for a 16-4-8 fertilizer, divide 100 by 16 and you get 6.25. That means you need 6.25 pounds of 16-4-8 per 1,000 square feet. To figure the amount of 16-4-8 needed per acre, multiply the 6.25 pounds by 43.5 (constant), and you get 272 pounds of 16-4-8 per acre.
|Baseball*||Little League, Bronco||1.2|
|Babe Ruth, Senior League, Official||3.0 to 3.85|
|Football||Playing surface 360' x 160'||1.3|
|Playing surface & bench area 360' X 200'||1.6|
|Hash mark are 300' X 54'||0.37|
|Rugby*||1.4 to 1.7|
|Soccer*||2.2 to 2.7|
|Softball, Adult*||Slow pitch (12"), fast pitch||1.5 to 2.0|
|Modified slow pitch (16")||1.2 to 1.7|
|Softball, Youth*||1.5 to 2.0|
| * varies depending on the following: |
If rain doesn't supply 1 to 1 ¼ inches of water in a week, irrigate in the early morning, wetting the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. In sandy soils, apply ½ to ¾ inch of water every 3 to 4 days. Occasionally probe the soil to determine soil moisture. Irrigate only when symptoms of wilt appear (folded or curled leaves, footprinting, or bluish-green color). Avoid light, frequent watering, which promotes shallow rooting and algae, moss, and turfgrass diseases.
To minimize compaction and wear, do not irrigate 2 days before heavy use, and limit use of the field when it is wet. Postpone play and use other practice sites. Game fields should be used only for team play and not for team practice, gym class, or band practice.
Cut Kentucky bluegrass to 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches and tall fescue and mixtures of tall fescue and bluegrass to 2 to 3 inches. This high cut enhances deep rooting and promotes healthier plants. Mow as often as required, but do not remove more than 40 percent of the grass height at one time. Do not allow pure stands of bluegrass to grow taller than 3 ½ inches or fields with tall fescue to grow taller than 5 inches. Clippings rarely need to be collected if this schedule is followed. Remove clippings only if they will interfere with grass growth. If the grass gets excessively high during extended wet periods, raise the mower and remove one-third of the new growth; then lower the mower to the proper height and mow again in a day or two.
Aeration (coring) relieves compaction on athletic fields subject to heavy traffic. Aerate monthly when the grass is actively growing using ¾- to 1-inch-diameter tines that remove soil cores. Aerate the field lengthwise twice and crosswise once. To penetrate heavy clay soils, the field must be moist but not excessively wet (water several days in advance). Allow the plugs to dry, then pulverize them with a mower or power rake and redistribute them with a dragmat. More frequent coring may be necessary along heavily trafficked and compacted areas, such as around player benches, between hash marks, along sidelines, and in front of goals. Football fields may be aerated right after the last game of the season to avoid disrupting team play.
Aeration is absolutely necessary to maintain an acceptable field. Rent, borrow, or contract for these services if you do not have the equipment on hand. Do not aerate if the turf is under severe stress (extended periods of drought, etc.). It may take 3 weeks of good growing conditions for turf to recover after aeration. The field can be used while it is recovering.
Thatch removal is not usually needed for tall fescue fields but may be necessary for Kentucky bluegrass fields. Consider removing thatch thicker than ½ inch. Do not dethatch (using a vertical mower or power rake) in late spring or summer.
Use a combination product to control postemergence winter annuals and perennial broadleaf. Apply at the product label rate. For more difficult-to-control weeds (corn speedwell, woodsorrel, wild violets, etc.), apply half the label rate and repeat in 10 to 20 days. The herbicides listed in the table do not control grassy weeds. Do not use herbicides on newly seeded or renovated fields until new seedlings have been mowed at least three times.
|Product||Amount per acre||Weeds controlled|
|fenoxaprop||(Acclaim Extra 0.57EC)||13 to 39 fluid ounces||crabgrass, goosegrass|
|quinclorac||(Drive 75DF)||1 pound||crabgrass, foxtails, clovers, dendelion, and others|
|DSMA*||(various trade names)||varies||crabgrass, goosegrass, bahiagrass, dallisgrass, purple and yellow nutsedge, annual sedges, sandbur|
|MSMA*||(various trade names)||varies||same as DSMA plus green kyllinga|
|bentazon||(Basagran T/O 4S)||1 to 2 quarts||yellow nutsedge, annual sedge|
|(Lescogran 4SL)||1 to 2 quarts|
|halosulfuron||(Manage 750F)||0.67 to 1.33 ounces||yellow and purple nutsedge, green kyllinga|
|* Tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass have intermediate tolerance to these products. Use with caution and at reduced or minimum label rates.|
leaves rolled in the bud
membranous; collar-like, 0.02 inches (0.5 mm) or less long, very jagged
Growth Season/Life Cycle
cool season turf or perennial weed
rudimentary; non-clasping, small, short, hairs on edges
Leaf blade tip shape
sharp-pointed; deeply ridged above, glossy below, prominent midrib below, edges rough
occasional and short
divided; may be hairy on edges