Dallas Morning News - October 7, 2021
Grass Issues for Fall
It's planting time for cool season vegetable crops and flowers, but also time for some turfgrass projects. If you would like to overseed your turf with rye or other cool season grasses, time is running out. There are pros and cons related to planting winter grasses over your Bermuda or St. Augustine. And there is more negative than positive about overseeding zoysia. In all cases the overseeding creates a competition that harms summer grasses when they start to return in spring. But the look of the green grass in winter can be quite pleasant.
Ryegrass, fescue, clover and hairy vetch can be planted now. In fact, it's already a little late. If you have bare soil that needs protection from erosion or if you want to increase your vegetable production next summer, plant clover or vetch at 1 to 2 pounds per 1,000 square feet in loosened soil.
Planting hairy vetch on the edges or all across beds can help future crops
The best turf overseeding grass is perennial ryegrass. What's sold as annual ryegrass is coarser and hangs around longer in the spring. Scalp the summer grass and plant the seed right away at 5-10 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Do not apply fertilizer, especially corn gluten meal, until the small seedlings are up and growing to avoid affecting the seed germination. Fescue can also be planted now. It is a more permanent grass but will normally suffer during our hot summers. Some gardeners use it successfully in shady turf areas. For heavy shade, forget the grasses and plant groundcovers such as Ophiopogon, liriope, horseherb, Persian ivy, Asian jasmine or English ivy or just use shredded mulches or gravel such as decomposed granite, basalt or lava rock.
Watering and fertilizing too much in the cooling temperatures of early fall can cause fungal diseases
If any diseases are showing up in turf areas, you may be watering too much or fertilizing too much. The high nitrogen synthetic fertilizers could definitely be the problem. Many people make the mistake of leaving the daily summer irrigation cycle on as shorter and cooler days begin – and that leads to problems. Most landscape watering should now be weekly or less often. If brown patch spots, gray leaf spot lesions or fading out from take all patch are showing up, applying whole ground cornmeal at 20 lbs./1000 sq, ft. would be in order.
Leaves are starting to show a little color and beginning some light falling. That's natural and no problem. Mow and mulch the leaves, of any kind, into the turf. Grass clippings and leaves should never go into bags or sent to the landfills.
All types of solid sod can be planted successfully in the fall
And finally, it is too late in the season to plant Bermudagrass and Buffalograss from seed, same for St. Augustine and zoysia but seed isn't available anyway. It is, however, a good time to plant solid sod of any kind – summer grasses as well as the cool season choices.
For more detailed information about these issues, see my book Organic Lawn Care.