Tenacity application rates

Tenacity application rates

Simple table to convert Tenacity application rates expressed in fl.oz. per acre to application rates per 1,000 sq ft.

fl.oz/acre fl.oz/1,000 sq ft tsp/1,000 sq ft
1 0.02 0.14
2 0.05 0.28
3 0.07 0.42
4 0.09 0.55
5 0.11 0.69
6 0.14 0.83
7 0.16 0.97
8 0.18 1.11

 

Lawn renovation – cool season grasses

Lawn renovation – cool season grasses

grass_2

 

 

What is lawn renovation?

For lawns that have suffered severe damage from insects, disease, weeds or drought, or if you’re just looking for a re-do with an enhanced cultivar, a complete lawn renovation is often the best option.

In this article we will discuss renovation using the two most popular two season grasses – Kentucky Bluegrass and Tall Fescue.

Unlike overseeding, a renovation involves killing your entire stand of grass and starting with a clean slate. As with all seeding projects, success depends upon 3 factors:

1. Seed to soil contact

In order for grass to successfully establish, the seed must be in direct contact with the soil so that the roots may grow into the soil and extract nutrients. Seed that sits on top of thatch or dead grass has a poor chance of establishment.

2. Heat

Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass seed germinate best when temperatures outside hover between 78-85 degrees. Within this range, fescue germination will take place in 4-5 days. Kentucky Bluegrass may take up to 3 weeks to reach 80% germination.

3. Water

After seed has been applied and watered, it must be kept continuously moist until germination. Allowing the seed to dry can result in a complete loss. Grass seed must be watered 3-4 times a day for 15 minutes at a time until germination takes place. The goal is to keep the seed moist, not to soak the soil. After germination, the frequency of watering should be gradually reduced and the quantity of water applied at each watering gradually increased.

When should renovation be done?

Renovation of  lawns North of the Mason-Dixon line should be done mid-August. Renovation of cool-season lawns in the transition zone should be done around Labor Day. This timing gives the new grass the time it needs to establish so it can survive the following summer.

Spring is a very bad time to renovate due to weed pressure and the limited time available to the grass to establish before the summer heat. Seeding projects in the spring generally result in a weedy mess and wasted time and money.

Planning ahead for renovation

It pays to plan ahead. If you’re applying a pre-emergent in the spring, make sure that you apply at a rate that will not extend coverage into and interfere with your seeding project. Most pre-emergent herbicides prevent ALL seed from successfully germinating.

Preparing for renovation

Having everything ready when the time comes can make the difference between success and failure. You will need:

  • The square footage of your lawn. Tools such as this can be of great help.
  • Seed. Follow the seed producer’s recommended seeded rates.
  • Glyphosate(RoundUp). Do not use “extended control” type herbicides which contain pre-emergent and will prevent the seed from germinating.
  • If you do not have an irrigation system, you will need hoses, a multi-zone controller and impact sprinklers.
  • A broadcast spreader.
  • Starter fertilizer.
  • Optional: granular fungicide.
  • Optional: Tenacity herbicide.
  • A push mower. If you have a riding mower, it may be too rough to use on the new seedlings.

Fallowing

Renovation involves killing all existing grass and weeds to create the perfect bed for a new, uniform fallowlawn that will be the envy of the neighborhood. The process of killing all existing vegetation is called fallowing. Begin 3 weeks before your target seeding date by spraying your entire lawn area with glyphosate. Water for 15-20 minutes on a daily basis for the next 7 days to sprout more weeds. Spray with glyphosate again and continue to water daily for 10 days. Spray newly germinated weeds with glyphosate once again. The process will deplete the seed bank and reduce the amount of weeds that will germinate along with your grass seed.

 Seeding

  1. Cut the (dead)lawn at your mower’s lowest setting.
  2. Remove all clipping and debris from the lawn. Use a rake to remove as much of the thatch and dead grass as possible. Remember, we need good seed to soil contact.
  3. Using the broadcast spreader, spread the seed at the recommended rate slightly overlapping each pass. Do not over-apply – grass that is planted too dense is unable to develop properly and looks like doll hair.
  4. Using the broadcast spreader, apply the starter fertilizer at the rate indicated on the bag.
  5. Consider applying a granular fungicide  like Bayer Fungus Control at seeding time. The heat and frequent water creates perfect conditions for fungus which can destroy new seedlings in a matter of days.
  6. Consider spraying Tenacity at pre-emergent rates at seeding time to further suppress weed germination.
  7. You are now ready to water. Program your controller to water each zone 3-4 times a day for 15 minutes.(No sprinkler system? A Orbit 4 zone watering system may come in handy)

Post-germination care

Watering

New lawns should be watered:

  • 15 minutes twice daily for the first 7 days after germination. Avoid watering in the evening as it greatly increases the risk of disease.
  • 20 minutes daily for the following 14 days.
  • 30 minutes every 3 days for the next 2 weeks.
  • 45 minutes every 5 days for the next 2 weeks.
  • Slowly work your way towards the deep and infrequent watering schedule.

Mowing

Mow the grass when it first  reaches 3.5″ inches down to 2″. Make subsequent cuts to 2.5″ for the first month when the grass reaches 3.5″. Maintain the lawn at 3″ after the first month throughout fall to encourage lateral growth.

Fertilizing

New lawns should be fed with 1 pound of Nitrogen per thousand sq feet monthly through fall using a lawn fertilizer that is high in Nitrogen. Make the first post-starter fertilizer application 4 weeks after seeding.

Disease

Disease is common in newly seeded lawns due to new grass being susceptible to fungus. Keep a vigilant eye on the grass and be ready to act swiftly and apply a fungicide at the first sign of trouble – it may only take a few days to wipe out an entire renovation.

Weed control

Wait 30 days after germination to spray any weeds with herbicides. Young grass can be damaged along with the weeds if sprayed too early.

Wait 60 days to apply pre-emergents – they can interfere with root development in young grass.

Final words

Remember to use your common sense and listen to what the grass is telling you. If you see signs of drought stress, water. If you see signs of disease, act swiftly. If the grass does not look ready for cutting ,wait a little longer. The most important factor that determines the success or failure of a renovation project is YOU.

Battle of the hose-end sprayers : Chapin G362D vs. Ortho Dial N Spray

Battle of the hose-end sprayers : Chapin G362D vs. Ortho Dial N Spray

Spraying herbicides or nutrients using a pump sprayer can be very time consuming , labor intensive,  and getting complete coverage is problematic even when using a marker dye. Hose-end sprayers  – though not appropriate for all situations – can make the task much easier and faster. Two of the most popular hose-end sprayer on the market are the Chapin G362D Professional All Purpose Hose End Sprayer and the Ortho Dial N Spray Multi-Use Hose-End Sprayer. Having used both of them, here are my impressions of these products.

Chapin G362D Professional

The Chapin sprayer , coming in at just under $20 at Lowe’s, is a metal body sprayer that can hold up to 32oz of concentrate. Mixing ratio is adjusted by turning the metering dial at the top, and conversion from teaspoons to tablespoons is done by inserting416dqbdvsgl-_sy450_ a small brass converter into the siphon tube. The sprayer features a removable spray deflector which creates a wide and somewhat coarse spray pattern.

Having used  the Chapin sprayer to spray glyphosate before renovation, I have found that  suffers from a few major issues:

  • In what I’m assuming is an attempt to keep the concentrate bottle vertical, the bottle and nozzle assembly rotates independently from the handle. This makes it impossible to spray at an angle and very difficult to get into hard to reach areas or in situations where you can’t walk on the grass, like after seeding.
  • The sprayer seems to have problems metering out concentrate. After spraying half the yard, I realized that none of the concentrate had been extracted from the bottle. Stopping briefly and then resuming spraying magically resolves the problem, but reliability is an issue.
  • The droplet size created by the deflector is very large, which is less than ideal when doing foliar applications. A finer spray can result in more even coverage and better coating of the grass blade.
  • There is significant space between the bottom of the siphon tube and the bottom of the bottle, which means there will always be a good amount of concentrate left over at the bottom.

Unfortunately, while the build quality appears to be good, the design of the product is flawed. These design issues make its use in lawn care challenging if not outright frustrating.

Ortho Dial N Spray Multi-Use Hose-End Sprayer

The Ortho Dial N Spray, coming in at just under $11, is a hose end sprayer made entirely out of plastic. Like the Chapin, it features41tg2wmb16l a 32oz  concentrate bottle but it is also compatible with large Ortho concentrate bottles – just attach the sprayer directly to the bottle. It features 3 spray patterns : shower, fan and jet. The metering dial is located in the side of the sprayer and features 14 settings.

At first touch sprayer feels cheaply made. It is all plastic and you can actually feel the two sides trying to come apart slightly as you
push the trigger. The concentrate bottle attaches to the body of the sprayer somewhat loosely, adding to the “cheap” feeling. However, upon first use, the Ortho proves to be a good performer. The fan nozzle produces a finer spray than the Chapin, though still more coarse than I would like. The metering is solid – the concentrate gets sucked out evenly and consistently. And since the sprayer body is one piece, you can tilt and spray at an angle. Unfortunately, the shower and jet nozzles don’t seem to have much use in a lawn care setting, though they could come in handy for other tasks.

Bonus: an empty Bayer Fungus Control bottle

687073012705After spraying the contents of a Bayer Fungus Control Ready-To-Spray bottle, I decided to hang on to it to see if it could be re-used. The bottle produces an excellent spray with perfect droplet size, and is a consistent performer. After having re-used it for about 20 applications, varying from fungicide to iron, the thread on the bottle wore off to where it could no longer be re-used. While it lasted, the “free” Bayer bottle was the best performing “hose-end sprayer”.

The winner

Unfortunately, both the Chapin and the Ortho sprayers suffer from flaws. The Chapin, at double the price of the Ortho, is sturdy but unusable due to design flaws. It thus gets a 1 star rating. The Ortho, while not as sturdy, does a good job at half the price and so receives a 3 star rating. Maybe Bayer can turn their RTS bottle into a standalone hose-end sprayer? One can only hope.

Seed counts per pound

Seed counts per pound

When mixing seed, it is important to know that different grass seeds have different sizes. A Kentucky Bluegrass seed for example is about 10 time smaller than a Tall Fescue seed. By law, all bags of seed must have a label attached detailing – among other things – the percentage of each type of seed inside the bag by weight. This means that a cool season mix with “a little KBG” (10%) and “a lot of fescue” (90%)  is actually a 50/50 mix by seed count.

If you are shopping for seed or planning to mix your own, the below table should come in handy.

Grass Type Seeds per pound
Kentucky Bluegrass 2,200,000
Tall Fescue 230,000
Annual Ryegrass 230,000
Perennial Ryegrass 230,000
Common Bermuda 1,750,000
Centipede 410,000
Zoysia 1,000,000
Tank mixing order

Tank mixing order

20lknapsack1It is not uncommon for multiple pesticides and fertilizers to be mixed together in the same sprayer tank so they can all be applied in one go. Most pesticides labels provide information on compatibility with other pesticides and fertilizers, but testing of all combinations is impossible. If a substance is not specifically mentioned as compatible, follow the label to perform a compatibility test.

To minimize the risk of active ingredients of different formulations interacting with each other, the following mixing order should be used, from first to last:

  1. Wettable Powders (WP or W)  –  finely ground solids, typically mineral clays, to which an active ingredient is sorbed. They provide an effective way to apply an active ingredient in a water spray that is not readily soluble in water. These dry preparations look like dust, contain a high percent active ingredient (usually 50 percent or more) and are mixed with water for application. Wettable powders form a suspension rather than true solution when added to water. Good agitation (mixing) is needed in the spray tank to maintain the suspension.
  2. Dispersible Granules (WDG)  – manufactured in the same way as wettable powders except that the powder is aggregated into granular particles. They are mixed with water and applied in a spray exactly like a wettable powder. This dry formulation usually contains 70 to 90 percent active ingredient.
  3. Flowable or Aqueous Suspension (F, L or AS)  – very finely ground solid material suspended in a liquid. Liquid flowables usually contain a high concentration (4 pounds or more) of active ingredient and are mixed with water for application.
  4. Emulsifiable Concentrate (E or EC)  – usually contains the active ingredient, one or more petroleum solvents, and an emulsifier that allows the formulation to be mixed with water.  These concentrates are soluble in oil and form an emulsion in water. The emulsion-forming characteristic results from the addition of adjuvants to the herbicide formulation.
  5. Solutions

When using a sprayer:

  • Calibrate the sprayer
  • Read the herbicide label and wear personal protection equipment
  • Fill the tank half way with water, never mix concentrated chemicals in an empty tank
  • Measure chemicals you are adding to the tank.
  • Apply the pesticide according to label directions.
Orbit 4 zone watering system review

Orbit 4 zone watering system review

61uosjyvil-_sl1000_As those of us without an irrigation system know all too well, keeping seed moist during a seeding project with hoses and sprinklers can be challenging, especially if the area is large. The Orbit 4 zone watering system aims to make the process easier by automating the task of watering for up to 4 zones. Since the standard hose bib doesn’t have enough water pressure to run more than one sprinkler, the controller turns on each of the zones one at a time.  But how does it perform in the real world?

The system consists of a battery powered controller (2 x AA), a 4 port manifold and 2 valves. The system can control up to 4 valves, but only 2 are provided in the box.  Two additional valves can be purchased separately if needed. The setup process is straightforward: attach the valves to the manifold, connect the valves to the controller, insert batteries and, after a 3o second period in which the controller tests each valve, the system is ready to be programmed.

The Orbit controller supports up to 3 start times, and each start time can be configured to activate between 1 and 4 valves. The valves are activated sequentially from 1 to 4, with only one valve open at any given time. Turning the programming dial to the “How Long” section allows you to configure how long each zone will be watered – this setting applies globally to all starting times configured. Finally turning the dial to “How Often” allow you to select on what days the program will be activated – either by selecting  between 1 and 7  days of the week or by selecting the every 1 day option. Once configured, setting the dial to Auto will instruct the controller to turn on and off based on the configuration entered.

Having used the controller for two weeks to water ~6,500 square feet of lawn during fall renovation, I have found it to be a huge time saver. I have configured all 4 zones to turn on at 9:00AM, 12:00PM and 3:00PM watering each zone for 30 minutes. So far, it has worked flawlessly. The valves feel sturdy and open/close with a loud thump, with no leaking. At the same time, this system has a few annoyances which unnecessarily cripple what could be a fantastic product.

The Pros

  • Sturdy construction.
  • Works flawlessly.
  • Good battery life  – no sign of batteries needing to be changed after 2 weeks of continuous use.
  • Huge time saver for keeping areas moist during seeding.
  • Manual cycles can be initiated with the push of a button.
  • Clear on-screen indication of how long until the next starting time and how much longer left of the current watering cycle.

The Cons

  • Only comes with 2 valves. Additional valves have to be purchased
  • Only 3 configurable starting times. This can be made to work, especially since a manual cycle can be started anytime with the push of a button , but having up to 7 starting times would have been more suitable for the light frequent watering needed during seeding.
  • The electronic controller features a bracket in the back which allows it to mount onto one of the valves. The bracket is too loose and the controller just falls off, making this mounting system somewhat useless.
  • The clock consistently falls behind by about 2 minutes each day. Not a huge deal, unless you need to synchronize starting time with another device like say a pump.

Overall, the Orbit 4-zone watering system has proved to be a huge time and labor saver and has helped me achieve more even germination with far less effort than in previous years. It is a must-have for anyone considering a renovation project without an irrigation system.

Overseeding fescue lawns

Overseeding fescue lawns

Green

Tall fescue is one of the most popular turf grasses in the transition zone due to its ability to form a great looking lawn, while exhibiting better heat and drought resistance than other cool season grasses. However, unlike other grasses like Kentucky Bluegrass, tall fescue does not spread on its own. Overseeding is a great way to make up for summer losses and increase lawn density in fescue lawns. It is also a great way to introduce new cultivars into your existing genetic base, which can help with disease resistance.

If your existing lawn has 50% or less coverage, you may want to consider a complete renovation instead.

What is overseeding?

Overseeding is the process of spreading seed “on top” of your existing lawn to increase density. As with all seeding projects, success depends upon 3 factors:

1. Seed to soil contact

In order for grass to successfully establish, the seed must be in direct contact with the soil so that the roots may grow into the soil and extract nutrients. Seed that sits on top of thatch or dead grass has a poor chance of establishment.

2. Heat

Fescue seed germinate best when temperatures outside hover between 78-85 degrees. Within this range, fescue germination will take place in 4-5 days. At temperatures in the low 70s/high 60s, fescue germination may take up to 2 weeks.

3. Water

After seed has been applied and watered, it must be kept continuously moist until germination. Allowing the seed to dry can result in a complete loss. Fescue seed must be watered 3-4 times a day for 15 minutes at a time for the first 7 days. The goal is to keep the seed moist, not to soak the soil. After the first week, the frequency of watering should be gradually reduced and the quantity of water applied at each watering gradually increased.

When should lawns be overseeded?

Fescue lawns North of the Mason-Dixon line should be overseeded mid-August. Fescue lawns in the transition zone should be overseeded around Labor Day. This timing gives the new grass the time it needs to establish so it can survive the following summer.

Spring is a very bad time to overseed lawns due to weed pressure and the limited time available to the grass to establish before the summer heat. Seeding projects in the spring generally result in a weedy mess and wasted time and money.

Preparing for overseeding

Having everything ready when the time comes can make the difference between success and failure. You will need:

  • The square footage of your lawn. Tools such as this can be of great help.
  • Seed. Fescue should be overseeded with 4-5 lbs of seed per thousand square feet as determined above.
  • If you do not have an irrigation system, you will need hoses, a multi-zone controller and impact sprinklers.
  • A broadcast spreader.
  • Starter fertilizer
  • A push mower. If you have a riding mower, it may be too rough to use on the new seedlings.

Overseeding the lawn

  1. scalped

    In order to give the new seed the best chance to establish, the existing grass must be cut as low as possible. At the same time, since we don’t want to kill the existing grass, this process must take place gradually. Beginning two weeks before your target seeding date, start mowing your grass every 3-4 days lowering your cutting height each time. The final cut should take place on the day of seeding at your mower’s lowest cut setting.

  2. Remove all clipping from the lawn. Use a rake to remove as much of the thatch and dead grass as possible. Remember, we need good seed to soil contact.
  3. seedUsing the broadcast spreader, spread the seed at a rate of 4-5 lbs per thousand square feet slightly overlapping each pass. Do not over-apply – grass that is planted too dense is unable to develop properly and looks like doll hair.
  4. Using the broadcast spreader, apply the starter fertilizer at the rate indicated on the bag.
  5. You are now ready to water. Program your controller to water each zone 3-4 times a day for 15 minutes.(No sprinkler system? A Orbit 4 zone watering system may come in handy)

Fescue germination should take place in 4-5 days and the seed should be kept moist throughout the process. Mow the grass 14 days after seeding date and maintain the lawn at 3.5″ throughout fall to encourage lateral growth.

With a refreshed, thick lawn, the  grass will always be greener on your side.

Controlling broadleaf weeds in cool season lawns

Controlling broadleaf weeds in cool season lawns

While a good pre-emergent program will keep most annual weeds out of your lawn, perennial broadleaf weeds like dandelions, white clover and buttonweed will be unaffected and will need to be removed using a selective post-emergent herbicide.

dandelion-2b

Post-emergent herbicides come in a variety of forms.  Weed and feed type products are the worst choice, because:

  • The timing for fertilization and weed control is never the same.
  • It must be applied to the entire lawn whether there’s weeds or not to avoid differences in color caused by some areas being fertilized and some not
  • The granules have to stick to the weed making them ineffective.

For these reasons we will skip over weed and feed  products and talk about standalone liquid and granular herbicides. Most contain the same active ingredients:

  • 3-way herbicides contain 2,4D, mecoprop and dicamba. These herbicides will control a very large number of broadleaf weeds like dandelions and clover. They are cheap and very effective, making them an excellent first choice when dealing with broadleaf weeds. Examples are Ortho Weed-B-Gon and Trimec.

When spraying broadleaf herbicides, the following rules should be observed:

  • Always read the label and follow all instructions exactly to avoid damage to your lawn.
  • If you only have a few weeds in your lawn simply spot spray rather than applying to the entire lawn.
  • Apply just enough to wet the leaf.
  • Do not apply to lawns which are stressed, damage may occur.
  • Do not apply to new turfgrass seedlings until after the grass has been mowed at least three times.

Herbicides are most effective when weed are actively growing – a dormant weed will not absorb the herbicide. A dose of fertilizer followed by a few days of watering can help bring the weed out of dormancy, at which point it can be sprayed. Adjuvants such as an non-ionic surfactant  greatly increase the effectiveness of your herbicide application by breaking water surface tension and helping the spray droplets stick to the leaf instead of beading up and rolling off. Even under ideal conditions, repeat applications every 10 days may be needed for some stubborn weeds like ground ivy.

Watering your lawn

Watering your lawn

sprinkler

Proper watering is the most important lawn care practice upon which healthy lawns are built. And a healthy lawn is a great looking lawn. Grasses, like all other plants, require water to stay alive.  Mother Nature provides for a good portion of your lawn’s water needs, but during periods of hot weather or drought, supplemental water is needed in the form of irrigation. The way in which this water is provided will guarantee the success or failure of your lawn.

A lot of homeowners – especially those with an irrigation system –  have been conditioned to water for 20-30 minutes multiple times a week. This creates a vicious circle in which because water is always available at the surface, the roots grow shallow to take advantage of this water. Because the roots grow shallow, water must be provided frequently or the plant suffers. Frequent watering also causes numerous fungal disease problems which typically wipe out large portions of lawns in early summer. But there’s a better way – it’s called deep an infrequent.

Deep and infrequent watering is a simple concept which involves applying larger amounts of water which penetrate deeper into the soil only when the grass shows signs of drought stress. Water penetrates heavier soils like clay very slowly, while others soils like sand drain very quickly. Temperatures vary from season to season. Some areas of your lawn get full sun, while others are in shade. Some grasses need more water than other. All these variables mean that water needs vary from region to region, and even from one section of your lawn to the next. The deep and infrequent method presented below accounts for all these variables by watering to a depth of 6 inches only when your grass needs it. Sound complicated? It’s not, here are the 2 golden rules:

  • Do not water unless your grass is showing signs of drought stress. This means that you may only need to water once a month in the spring, or not at all in the fall. This accounts for all weather and lawn condition – if the lawn is stressed it’s time to water, be it every 3 days in the summer or once a month in the fall.
  • When watering, water until a 6″ flat head screwdriver easily penetrates the soil all the way to the handle. This will ensure that regardless of soil type and sprinkler output, water penetrates deep enough to encourage deep root growth.

What are the benefits of a deep and infrequent watering program?

  • Grasses are encouraged to “seek” water deeper in the soil building a deeper root system which will better sustain them through periods of drought.
  • Allowing the surface of the soil to dry between watering means that weeds will be unable to compete with your grass.
  • A lawn that is not constantly damp is far less susceptible to fungal disease.
  • Deep and infrequent uses less water resulting in money savings.

Ready to jump on board? Great. Keep in mind that if you’re making the switch, the transition will have to made slowly to allow your grass to adapt to the new regime. Once you master proper watering, the grass will always be greener on your side – especially when everyone else’s lawns are crisp from the heat or dead from fungal disease.

Eliminating Bermuda from your lawn

Eliminating Bermuda from your lawn

bermuda

For folks in warmer climates, enhanced varieties of Bermuda are one of the main grasses used in home lawns. For those of us with cool season lawns, Bermuda is the weed from hell that you can’t even kill with fire. You pull it, you spray it with glyphosate, and it just comes back stronger like it thrives on taking a beating. Pre-emergents (see here) are effective in stopping Bermuda seed , but what about Bermuda which has already take a foothold?

Fortunately, there are options. In recent tests, a mix of fluazifop-p-butil(Fusilade II) and triclopyr (Turflon Ester) provided 70% control of post-emergent Bermudagrass in Tall Fescue turf with little injury to fescue when applied at label rates. This gives lawniacs south of the Mason-Dixon line a great option for Bermuda post-emergent control, although complete eradication may take a couple of seasons. With Bermuda under control in your lawn while it devours your neighbor’s lawns summer after summer, the grass will always be greener on your side.

University of Tennessee – Bermudagrass Control in Tall Fescue and Zoysiagrass Turf

NCSU – Bermudagrass Control in Tall Fescue