kansas city backyard hardscapes

Fall Lawn Renovation on cool-season turfgrass

Turf Disease Damage

What a spring and summer it has been! After an almost record-breaking rainfall spring and early summer here comes the humidity. Brown patch and other turf diseases have been severe in most cases. Central Missouri including the Lake of the Ozarks has been hit the worst. Our sod suppliers for both our Kansas City and the Lake of the Ozarks locations reported the worst disease pressure in years, with Select Turf in Jefferson City, Missouri reporting the highest levels. At the Lake of the Ozarks humidity levels were the highest I have felt since moving here 11 years ago.

Other Turf Issues

In addition to the moisture and disease problems wreaking havoc on the turfgrass, shock from the transition from extremely wet to hot and dry has damaged some turfgrass here in the Midwest. White grub damage has been observed and has been continuing into the early fall period. All of these factors are making it even more important to do some lawn renovation this fall.

How do we repair the lawn?

We like a combination of things to get the lawn back in shape in the fall. Of course a sound turf fertilization program is essential to the recovery of the turf. We will touch on that at a later date. Once late August and September arrive it is time to start thinking about the renovation of the lawn. We primarily use core aeration as our method of choice for renovating our cool-season turf. This has several benefits. First is that we are opening up the soil and the root zone to allow more oxygen to penetrate the soil which in turn helps the turf recover from the summer issues. Second is the increased oxygen will benefit the soil bacteria and organisms that feeds on thatch and organic matter. Lastly for this discussion is through proper core aeration we have now created a good environment for the seed to germinate. Good seed-to-soil contact is essential for good results when renovating your cool-season turfgrass. The loose soil and holes created by the core aerating machine are ideal for the germination of turf seed. We typically do multiple passes with our aeration equipment at different angles to get the maximum amount of holes per square foot. On severely damaged areas in our lawns we will also incorporate a verti-cutting machine into the mix. We will use this for a few reasons. First we can utilize the verticutter to help remove dead turfgrass material that could hinder our seed-to-soil contact. After running the machine over the bad areas leaf rakes are used to remove the material generated by the spinning vertical blades. The second way we use the verticutter is after the excessive dead plant tissue is removed we will utilize the machine to prepare the soil prior to seeding. The verticutter slices grooves in the soil which helps provide that good seed-to-soil contact. Lastly the machine can be used as a final step in the process to mix the seed into the soil for optimum contact.

What’s next? Now we need some water…