Turf inquisition at Ag Expo

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.

Ag Expo recently wrapped up its 30th year on campus and this year the Crop and Soil Sciences tent was focused on turfgrass. After spending about 12 hours over three days occupying the booth and fielding turfgrass questions from homeowners, farmers and vendors, here are some of the common questions.

Top 5 turf questions from Ag Expo:

1. Have you developed a no-mow, no-nothing turfgrass?

No. We have yet to develop a grass that is always green and doesn’t require mowing. Although some folks have an inordinate disdain for mowing their lawn, there are still a group of folks, myself included, that actually enjoy this weekly task as a pleasant diversion from email, texts and cell phones ringing.

2. If I’m worried about grubs this year, when should I apply one of those preventative-type grub control products?

Now is go-time for applying the preventative-type grub control products such as GrubEx. Make sure to water the product in as it needs to get through the thatch to the soil to be most effective on the grubs.

3. My backyard is essentially a woodlot, why does the turf look so bad?

The next time you’re walking through the forest make sure to look at the ground and note how much turfgrass you see. It’s not easy to grow turf in complete shade, you might need to consider some selective basal pruning of trees if you really want to have some good looking turf in these environments. Otherwise, manage turf in the shade by watering more lightly and frequently and consider the same for fertilizer. Give the turf a little food every two to three weeks to help it get along in the shade.

4. Will the pinwheels in my lawn keep the moles out?

No, but they may help entertain your dog or cat. There are numerous mole control products from castor oils to poison baits to traps. Tomcat’s (which is poison bait) active ingredient talpirid, has been all the buzz for controlling moles in the last couple years. If you’re going to use any poison bait product make sure to read and follow all label directions. Someone that is persistent and patient with trapping can still be a very effective mole control option. Also, keep in mind that if you have a lawn this is near a woodlot it might be an endless pursuit as the moles will move back and forth between the lawn and the woods.

5. I just moved into a house and the soil I’m trying to grow the lawn on seems to be some sort of pottery clay what should I do?

Unless you’re interested in starting over and hauling in four to six inches of nice black topsoil, you’re going to have to learn to work with what you have. First thing is to get a soil test to find out what you’re really dealing with. Some of these soils may be very low in phosphorus and potassium and that’s some important information for you to know. A combination of regular fertilizer applications and at least yearly core aerification should help you produce a lawn that has a fighting chance.

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