Turf tips as autumn appears

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.

It happened this morning on my drive into campus. I knew it was coming, the invasion of 40,000 students back to campus obviously gave me the first warning; the promise of another college football season that would be different than the past Spartan struggles was another sign. However, this morning when I saw that maple tree on the corner starting to show its crimson red colors, I knew autumn was officially right around the corner.

In the August 25 Landscape Alert issue, I covered the basics for reseeding damaged turf areas and touched on fall fertilization applications. Here is a wrap-up on turf issues you may want to think about in the next month.

Rusty sneakers

One of the dangers of autumn is turning those new, white school sneakers to orange after walking through the lawn. After what was a sporadically sultry summer, the cool temperatures in autumn often result in rust showing up on lawns. Rust is very diverse; there is stem rust, crown rust, leaf rust and stripe rust. Don’t worry about what rust might be contaminating your lawn, as a general rule in almost all cases rust is considered a cosmetic turfgrass disease that although it may discolor the turf, it will not result in wide-spread death of the turfgrass. If you find yourself inundated with a bad case of rust, make sure to keep up on your mowing, and if you haven’t applied any fertilizer in a while, consider a fertilizer application to stimulate turf growth, which will help diminish the impact of the rust.

Sharp mower blades

After a long summer of mowing turf, it would be a good idea to sharpen that mower blade as we head into the autumn. Sharp mower blades are essential for a good quality cut, and with leaf mulching season right around the corner, you want to ensure you have a sharp blade.

Broadleaf weed control

Just a reminder that all of those tough to control broadleaf weeds that you’ve struggled with all season long can be effectively controlled in the autumn with a well timed herbicide application in the latter part of September and first week of October.

Core aeration

For all of those compacted turfgrass areas, autumn is the perfect time to conduct core aeration. Core aeration will help alleviate compaction, can dilute out thatch over time, and can even be used as a method to create a seed bed for overseeding some damaged turfgrass areas. Make sure to have all of your underground wires or irrigation pipes well marked to avoid any unforeseen disasters.

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