We have had a great summer this year when it comes to grass and yard growth.  Rains have been spaced almost strategically allowing our grass to continue growing without that summer lull.  This leads me to think about what we can do to get our lawns in a healthier shape before winter sets in. Taking good care of them now will allow them to come out of the winter dormancy period growing healthy and strong this coming spring. This is of course assuming we will continue getting more rain in the month of September.

Perennial plants by their nature tend to grow leaf tissue in the spring and once they have enough leaf tissue they attempt to reproduce. In the case of Bermuda grass lawns, they do this by putting up seed heads, growing stolons across the top of the ground and by growing rhizomes beneath the surface of the soil. As the plant goes into the late fall, it begins to utilize the carbohydrate production in its leaves to fill its root and rhizome system with this food. This allows the plant to have the ability to come out growing fast and strong the following spring. So how can we help our Bermuda grass go to bed this winter in good shape?  We help the Bermuda grass replace all that energy in September and early October before going dormant for the winter. Therefore, feeding it this fall and allowing it to have plenty of leaf area prior to frost will go a long way toward helping the plant recover and refill its roots with Carbohydrates.

If you put down some phosphorus this spring, there is no need to add any more this fall. If however you have not had your lawn on a springtime fertility program, I would suggest you apply 3 lbs. 18-46-0 per 1,000 square foot of lawn. Phosphorus is to a plant as pasta is to a long distance runner. It helps to provide the energy for long periods of work and in plants, this means that it is important in root and shoot growth. If you had already done your springtime fertility early this year, then all you need to do is add nitrogen to the lawn to get it to take off and grow. Nitrogen is like the gas in a cars tank to a plant. If it has plenty, it can go (or grow) fast and go (or grow) for a long time. But, once it empties the tank (soil) of nitrogen, it is going to quit growing. Adding 2.5 lbs. of 46-0-0 per 1,000 sq. foot in early September will give your grass enough fuel to continue to grow and refill its roots until the first killing frost this fall.

The second thing we can do to put our Bermuda lawn to bed for the winter in good shape is to allow it enough leaf area to collect sunlight and turn the nutrients we have supplied it with into the food needed to fill the roots. Leaves, on the Bermuda grass plant are the plants food factory. If you constantly mow too close, you are reducing the production potential of the plant. Make sure your last few mowings this fall are no less than 2.5 inches in height. This will leave enough leaf area on the plant so that it has the ability to produce enough carbohydrates to refill those roots. This will allow the plants to have enough energy to shoot out of the ground this coming spring and provide for a strong beautiful lawn next summer!

If you have any questions about lawn maintenance please come by 14001 Acme Rd Shawnee, call (405)273-7683 or email kyle.robinson@okstate.edu. Have a wonderful weekend!