The vast majority of lawns in Effingham County are composed of centipede grasses.
As the county ag agent, I enjoy the privilege of seeing many lawns that are managed differently and subsequently are in various states of “repair."
As far as centipede lawn care goes, maintenance throughout the season is fairly minimal. However, fall time is a period of relatively high management activity for these grasses.
For any crop, ornamental or other plant, including turf grass, prevention is always better than curing or fixing issues after they show up, and that is what fall lawn care is all about.
There are at least two applications that should be made now, and possibly three, to get our lawns in tip-top shape for the 2019 growing season. Herbicides, fertilizer and fungicides are all applications that have a place in the fall grass management calendar.
I’ve yet to see a yard that is totally free of weeds. There are two general types of herbicides; pre-emergent and post-emergent. If correct pre-emergent herbicides are applied at the right time, post-emergent herbicide applications can be minimalized or even overlooked for annual weeds.
Pre-emergent herbicides typically will not kill weeds but will prevent them from germinating and growing in the first place. This application should be made in September and followed in late winter/ early spring with another pre-emergent herbicide application, and possibly a third in mid summer.
If these applications are made on time, lawn weeds can be nearly eradicated and, after a few years, the volume of herbicides applied can also be reduced. No applications of any kind should be made while grass is coming out of dormancy.
Fertility needs in centipede lawns are the least of any southern lawn grasses I commonly see. However, there are a few guidelines to follow.
Do not overapply nitrogen to get your grass greener. Twenty pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 1,000 square feet throughout the season is all the nitrogen that centipede grasses typically need.
Late in the summer and into the fall, no more nitrogen should be applied. However, a potassium application such as 0-0-61 will help the grass through the winter dormancy period. This application is often overlooked but helpful with winter stresses and improving long-term health of grasses.
Fungal diseases can be complicated, expensive and difficult to control. Luckily, not all lawns are affected by disease.
For those lawns that do have persistent diseases, the fall fungicide application is critical, as is the need to use multiple fungicides in rotation.
Turf diseases are not typically eradicated with a single fungicide application or cultural practice and a multipronged approach is typically recommended for lawn disease control that can be labor intensive and costly. For this reason, it is best to consult with the Effingham County Extension office or other turf professional to make sure any efforts put into turf disease control are not misdirected or otherwise wasted.
While no lawn (even synthetic turf) is free of maintenance requirements, well-directed and timely lawn care can substantially reduce sweat equity put into producing that lawn that is the envy of the neighborhood.
The Effingham County Extension can be contacted for specific recommendations at (912) 754-8040.