K-State Research and Extension News
February 17, 2014
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Lawn Care through the Year

MANHATTAN, Kan. – We run on it. We play on it. And sometimes we lie down and dream on it. It’s easy to take that grass underfoot for granted, especially when temperatures are mild and rains are plentiful. A few steps through the year, however, will help fortify the green carpet we call lawns through tough times, according to Kansas State University horticulturist Ward Upham.

Taking the monthly calendar approach to lawn care for cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue can help make maintaining a healthy lawn seem more manageable through the year, said Upham, who is director of K-State Research and Extension’s Horticulture Rapid Response Center. He provided month-by-month reminders for homeowners regarding how to care for a cool-season lawn.   

March - Spot treat broadleaf weeds if necessary. Apply the treatment on a day that is 50 degrees or warmer. Keep an eye on the weather forecast, as rain or irrigation within 24 hours of application will reduce the treatment’s effectiveness.

April - Apply crabgrass preventer in April. If you have redbud trees in your area, take note of when they’re in full bloom. That’s an easy reminder to apply crabgrass preventer. The preventer needs to be watered in before it will start to work. One-quarter inch of water will be enough to water in any of the products mentioned in this calendar. Remember that a good, thick lawn is the best weed prevention and may be all that is needed.

May - Fertilize with a slow-release fertilizer if you water your lawn or if you receive enough rainfall that your turf normally doesn’t go drought-dormant during the summer. If there are broadleaf weeds, spot treat with a spray or use a fertilizer that includes a weed killer. Rain or irrigation within 24 hours of application will reduce effectiveness
of the weed killer, but the fertilizer needs to be watered in. If you are using a product that has both fertilizer and weed killer, wait 24 hours after application before watering in.

June through Mid-July - Apply second round of crabgrass preventer by June 15 – unless you have used Dimension (dithiopyr) or Barricade (prodiamine) for the April application. These two products normally provide season-long control with a single application. Remember to water it in. If grubs have been a problem in the past, apply a product containing imidacloprid during the first half of July. This works to prevent grub damage. It must be
watered in before it becomes active.

Late-July through August - If you see grub damage, apply a grub killer that contains Dylox. Imidacloprid is effective against young grubs and may not be effective on late instar grubs. The grub killer containing Dylox must be watered in within 24 hours or effectiveness drops.

September - Fertilize around Labor Day. This is the most important fertilization of the year. Water in the fertilizer.

November - Fertilize. This fertilizer is taken up by the roots, but is not used until the following spring. Water in the fertilizer. Spray for broadleaf weeds even if they are small. Broadleaf weeds are much easier to control
in the fall than in the spring. Spray on a day that is at least 50 degrees. Rain or irrigation within 24 hours reduces the effectiveness. Use label rates for all products.

Remember, Upham said, these recommendations are for cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue. Warm season grasses, such as zoysiagrass, bermudagrass, and buffalograss require a different maintenance regime.


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.

Story by: Mary Lou Peter
K-State Research & Extension News

Ward Upham is at 785-532-1438 or wupham@ksu.edu