7 - Home Lawn Q&A - Willamette Valley
This transcript was automatically generated from the unedited recording.
Brooke Edmunds 1:13
Hello, and welcome everybody, to the OSU Extension home at lawn QA with our OSU beaver turf team. My name is Brooke Edmunds, and I'm joining you from my home in Salem. And we have two guests today. Joining us as well. This is set up as a webinar format and hello to everyone out in Facebook land joining us listening in today. So if you have questions for the beaver turf team, and I'll have them introduce themselves here in a moment, if you could please enter them into the q&a box and so this will be a chance for us to track your questions. We have a lot of folks joining us today and we may not be able to get to all those Your questions in the next hour, we'll do our best. But it allows us to also follow up with you later on questions that we might have missed. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to stop sharing so it might move your screen around a little, but then you'll be able to see the videos of the folks that are going to be answering your questions today. So let me do that and see. All right, and so now, and you can reorganize your screen to see if you want to look at a gallery view or however you would like to see our two speakers. And so I'm going to have Alec introduce himself first and then pass it over to Brian.
Alec Kowalewski 2:42
everybody, Alec Koweleski, the turf specialists at Oregon State University. I teach undergrad classes and turf and landscape management, plant nutrition and irrigation and then I also provide extension work like master Garner training, and Brian McDonald and I run the research program together. So, Brian,
Brian Mc Donald 3:08
Hello, everybody. I'm Brian McDonald. I'm the research assistant. I work at a extension farm. And so I do a lot of maintenance along with the research I've do. I've been at OSU for 20 years, and I've kind of a generalist, I've researched everything, from fertilizers to herbicides to disease control to insect control. So I have a pretty broad, broad background. So
Brooke Edmunds 3:41
right. All right, you guys ready to go. So I see. Folks are starting to put your questions if you could please use the q&a box and not the chat. And that is just a great way for us to match up your questions. We did receive a couple questions ahead of time by email and so while you guys are thinking of Some questions. We'll start with those. So first question to kick us off our lawns even worth all the effort.
You're muted. Alec will let you unmute.
Alec Kowalewski 4:20
Is that better?
Brian Mc Donald 4:22
Okay, yeah, go for it.
Brooke Edmunds 4:23
Go for it. Yes.
Alec Kowalewski 4:25
Okay, so the question is, are lawns worth the effort? So I think if you're deciding what to make of your landscape, whether it's going to be turf grass, a garden, bed plantation, the trees, what do you want out of that landscape, and if someone's considering turf grass management, we should think about these rock three primary things that turf grass provides. Some people find it aesthetically pleasing. Some people use it for recreation, and then there's a whole list of things Functional components that come along with turfgrass as well. So some of those functional components include reduce surface runoff, and enhance water recharge grass is great at making water go back down into the ground, where if you have bare soil or open mulch, but mulch beds, water can have a tendency to run across the surface and erode the landscape. The other big benefit in the urban environment is temperature moderation, rather than hardscapes and bare soil turf grass will reduce the temperature in the summertime, substantially reducing the weather in and around urban environments. And then fire barrier is the last functional component. A lot of times we have turf grass around buildings to stop the spread of fire in these buildings. So that's my short list of functional recreational and aesthetic points for tournaments. turfgrass
Brooke Edmunds 6:02
so that's a resounding yes.
Definitely worth the effort. I agree.
One more question that came in from Patrick. And this is about some of the vertebrae critters that we deal with. You would like to know, should I give up trying to eradicate moles and accept the beneficial nature of their being in the yard? Is there any benefit or are there ways that you guys might recommend managing moles in lawns?
Brian Mc Donald 6:34
So I've dealt with moles at our farm for 20 years, and they're pretty destructive. The problem with them is they create big mounds and they dig lots of dirt. And the interesting thing is that one mole can can produce a lot of mounts so it's more about if Can you tolerate Then can you manage it? I trap them with and Patrick, I guess Patrick said he's not particularly good at trapping them. I don't find trapping them that difficult and I've seen a lot of people. A lot of different people show me what they do and everybody seems to do a little bit differently and most are effective. I think persistence is a good thing and maybe the trap you're using. So you know, in terms of benefit, I'm not sure they provide any benefits in the lawns. They eat Permira, primarily they earthworms and so earthworms are beneficial a lot. So it's almost counter counterproductive a little bit but, but I'm sure that they provide some ecological benefits. So it becomes a personal decision. If you're saying Should I give up eradicate them because you're not good at it. I think You could hire someone to do it or just get some advice from someone who's done it before. And just to give you a quick pointers, I use the clamp the clamp traps which are like this. And basically what I look for is you look for the mounds in a straight line, were there and, and then you dig a hole between the two mounds effectively and that that works pretty well. And the the trap is and you want to set it carefully and make sure that they can't sense it by putting clods of dirt in front of it. And then I cover it basically with dirt then put a flag in there. The big concern is is that somebody doesn't stumble upon it or kids get into it and hurt themselves because those clamp those things can really hurt you if you go off and
Alec Kowalewski 8:55
Brian Mc Donald 8:57
yeah, so it's you know, sometimes when you When I can't find an area where there's where the the mounds are sort of in a straight line, it can take a while to try. I mean, in that case, I think that they're cut, they're maybe heading to their burrows down lower. And so that coming up randomly and it can take, sometimes it can take a while to trap them, but in most most cases, I can catch them in a day or two. So it's it's not difficult. You just have to kind of know how to set them and use the right trap and but in terms of weather, I can't tell you whether it's it's worth it for you to leave them and if they do, they are really destructive votes a lot.
Brooke Edmunds 9:41
Hey, thanks, Brian.
So Stephen has a question about after mowing, grass clippings, pick them up, or leave them as mulch. What do you think? No,
Alec Kowalewski 9:56
yeah, I'll take this one. So I think you should return your grasp. clippings Stephen research has shown if you return your grass clippings, you can add about two pounds of nitrogen applied as fertilizer back into the soil. So we talk about fertilizing lawn four times a year at a pound of nitrogen each time. So if you're removing the clippings, you're taking away about half of the fertilizer you're putting onto the lawn. So return your clippings. And the best way to do that is a mulching blade, which has two sets of blades mounted on top of each other down underneath the mower. And if you went to a home improvement store where they sell a lawn mowers and you ask the sales rep in the lawn care or gardening department about mulching blades, they tell you where to go to find those.
Brooke Edmunds 10:47
Brian Mc Donald 10:49
Yeah, the only exception I would say is if you're mowing your grass, you've waited too long to mow it. And it's and there's so much grass that it's kind of covering along then then actually You'd probably want to, at least for that moment, you probably want to remove it because you're blocking the sun from the grass.
Brooke Edmunds 11:07
I'm totally guilty of that.
Like it catches up with you and you're like, really
Brian Mc Donald 11:13
that we see that a lot in the spring because people kind of don't think about mowing their lawns until through the winter and don't realize it's growing and then I see people mow and six inch grass, and if they're leaving it on their on their lawns, you can actually do damage that way.
Brooke Edmunds 11:32
Susan has a question. Should I carry the lawn? And if so, what time of year is best to airy Alon.
Brian Mc Donald 11:41
So aeration is a good thing. it it's it's something that provides basically oxygen and reduces compaction and it actually you can it saves you can actually save up 20 to 25% of water if you water carefully. So, you either want to air air rate in spring, so April May ish, or in the fall we we've done trials with grad students done a couple trials where when they aired in April, they actually found they save 20 to 25%.
just based on he was he was looking at it, I mean at the plots every day but there is basically water savings to be had and it has to do with just water infiltration is lot more even. So you don't have the problem with the water stand and surface and potentially evaporating. That's not to say you wouldn't if you've never aerated if you err in the fall you wouldn't get similar savings versus no aeration. But the one thing you don't want to do is air raid when it's in the summertime when it's hot because It just it will just the holes won't, they'll just dry out and it'll be worse so, and usually the easiest way for a homeowner to air raid is to air right and then rent a dispatcher along with it. And then act and then detach the plugs in the lawn together kind of and break up all that soil and let it go back down into the into the holes. And you can rake it afterwards to to kind of help it and just make sure it's not you don't want it to wet. That's the one disadvantage of trying to do an April is you got to make sure that you know you might take a plug or a shovel and see how wet it is first because it shouldn't be wet. It needs to be moist, but not not rock hard and not real wet. So sort of in between.
Brooke Edmunds 13:48
Thank you. Um, how about we jump in and talk about a few questions on weed management? So Laurie has a question about getting rid of Have the POA on Oh, is that how you say that is that anyway?
Yeah, and other Heskey, weeds that reseed like ox, Alice and I, there's a couple of Oh annulus graph, actually.
Brian Mc Donald 14:13
Brooke Edmunds 14:15
Well, they're mentioning also that Yeah,
yeah. And so I don't know if you want to address individual weeds because it looks like folks are having some issues. So there's velvet grass issues, quack grass issues. I don't know how you How would you guys like to tackle thinking about weed invaders?
Alec Kowalewski 14:35
Wow, I'll jump in on this.
I think the first thing to think about is integrated pest management. And when people talk about integrated pest management, they usually start with pest prevention. And when we talk about our recipe for healthy lawns, which will outcompete summer and winter annual weeds like annual bluegrass and XL s, we're going to fertilize four times a year, twice in the spring and twice in the fall. We're going to mow once a week at about a two to three inch height. And we're going to irrigate about four times a week at a quarter of an inch from, you know, after or around Memorial Day to about Labor Day. So that first, those three primary cultural practices, they're the frequent mowing the frequent fertilization and irrigation four times a week through the summer is really going to do a lot to make your grass healthy, and help it resist annual weeds like annual Blue Grass annex Alice, as we get into some of the more hard to control broadleaf weeds. We typically apply broadleaf herbicides for those in the fall. And again, if we're doing proper integrated pest management, we only need to make a herbicide application once every Five years or 10 years, we're not making herbicide applications every year if we're managing the turfgrass properly. Some active ingredients that are great for these broadleaf weeds include two four D MCP, PE, dye Kamba and then try glow peer which is particularly good on clover and other spreading laterally growing weeds. So something like that grass on the other hand that is very difficult to remove from your lawn. I think if you focus on managing the grass, if you do hit velvet grass in your lawn and you want to take it out, I would remove it with a shovel or I would just live with about velvet bent grass in your lawn, like the Crosby Nash and still song If you can't be with the one you love, love the one year with right so sometimes it's hard to get these troublesome grass weeds out of our Maybe we should just figure out a way to live with. Would you like to add anything? Brian?
Brian Mc Donald 17:05
No, I think that's good. I think the number one question we get is how to control pie in your annual bluegrass. Because it's the grass that seeds it low in height. And to give everybody just a context of that. So all the golf courses in Western Oregon and Washington are nearly 100% annual bluegrass in spite of the fact that none of that was planted and inspire the fact that they've spent, you know, millions of dollars collectively trying to control it. So, you know, when you're talking about annual bluegrass and to extent the other grasses that invade bank grass and some of the other ones. Unfortunately, even though we grow all the different grasses in Oregon, lawns all convert over time. And I think what Alex said is, is absolutely right. It's more about management of the of your lawns. If you go to a golf course everybody thinks they look beautiful. Well that's because they're managing it well, it's not because of the grass species they have. So, you know, I think you need to, in when people first plant rye grasses, dark green, you see these contaminants that are lighter, it looks bad, but in a few years, they kind of all coalesce and then it's about, you know, man, you know, maintaining your lawn with the items that Alex mentioned.
Brooke Edmunds 18:41
Great, thank you. Sandy has a question about what type of grass or grass seed would you recommend? If half of the lawn is in a deep shade, and the other half is in full sun? So very different growing conditions. What are some tips for having Successful lawn in that type of situation?
Brian Mc Donald 19:02
Well, I would, I would recommend that you probably put low growing ground covers in the deep shade nothing does well in in deep shade, I mean turf doesn't grow well and deep shade. So that's my number one recommendation in terms of if you're trying to grow grass there what you basically the cultural practices change a little bit ours, you're going to mold it higher, you're going to apply less fertilizer and you're going to apply less water. Because what's what happens under shade is it's a high becomes a high humidity environment that holds a lot of moisture. And it becomes the grasses become susceptible to a lot of leaf spot diseases in the wintertime. So something like printing or something even like find fescue, which is reputed to be
you know, one of the best shade grasses
is, you know, gets leaf spots. badly in wet shade so so there aren't a lot of great choices and especially when you talk about deep shade, so you know what, what you could do what's decent is colonial bank grass, I would probably plan a mixture of perennial rye grass at four pounds per thousand act as a nurse, nurse grass with colonial bank grass. And then you know that can that does well in both areas. And it has at least a decent chance of of, of doing okay in the shade but nothing's going to do great and especially deep shade, so I would probably plant something else under the deep shade. But
Brooke Edmunds 20:46
there's two questions about a moss and I know Alec you have a publication on moss. So Marilyn wants to know about managing loss and Alon and then Deborah has already killed the moss in their yard and their lawn. But now they want to know should they get rid of it and how should they get rid of that dead loss? So sort of a to two questions and one talking about moss and lawns.
Alec Kowalewski 21:13
as I always, when I think about mass management, I always like to bring in the past triangle. So remember with the past triangle, we have a past host in some environmental condition here, and environmental condition is weakening the host the lawn and allowing the moss to thrive. So, I know y'all know the answers to this already what environmental conditions make the lawn weak and the moss thrive. It's the shade and the rain and the low fertility. So if we can do things to increase sunlight and if we can increase it activity by fertilizing will make our grass a lot healthier and make it outcompete the moss in the lawn. Okay, so we need to prune trees, trim trees, try to get sunlight into our lawn and then fertilize it twice in the spring and twice in the fall. So that's that's the first step or if you wanted to prevent the moss from coming back that needs to be done, you need to prune the trees and keep up with your fertilization. Some ways to get rid of the moss is to apply a product with Faris ammonium sulfate or Carpenter zone in it and I think actually car fencer zone cannot be applied by homeowners. Is that right,
Brian Mc Donald 22:42
Brooke? I don't get that may be true. Yeah.
Alec Kowalewski 22:46
So I would apply like a moss out product also which has fatty acid soap in it. So I would apply the product about now. I would go and rent a dispatcher or get a couple Young people with some spring rakes and I would rake out the dead moss and then I would fertilize the area and then add grass seed to it. Okay. And Brian talked about bank grass I think perennial ryegrass and fine fescue are also great options to include with the bent grass. So you could pick any of those grasses to for to add back into this bear area that you want to convert from loss to turf and then make sure to keep fertilizing it in the spring in the fall to keep it healthy
Brian Mc Donald 23:37
and Moss free.
Thank you Alex, I would just say that moss out is Lily Miller moss out that's it's a liquid iron product. And there are fatty acid soaps that you can buy that are the downsides iron products as they turn everything black and I've done a few trials on mauston and I I think it's more effective actually to detach the MOS first to remove as and you can remove easily 80% of it by detaching, and then apply your MOS product after detaching. And because you're going to what that's going to be it's going to kill the stuff that's leftover.
Brooke Edmunds 24:22
Thank you. And like Jean is going to be laying some sod and went through and killed the old grass the old lawn with roundup and planning to lay out the sod. What should they do to prepare that? That new ground to be rolling out some sod?
Brian Mc Donald 24:43
Well, I think if you're doing sod
I would probably if you spray it out
it's a little bit of challenge I would probably sod cut the old thought out and remove it and then lay the new sod one As you end up with the same level, you know cut out the section that is the same thickness. Another option which is sort of called a renovation, I don't know if I like this option as well but if you take a deep patch or after spraying along with roundup you can go over it multiple times and basically basically remove all the all the organic debris the or the all the tissue. The problem is is you still have sort of the root system there and you're laying the sod kind of over a patchy, potentially patchy organic layer. So I think if I'm laying sod, I'm going to probably sod cut sod cut it and put it down to soil and then lay the sod back over the top of it. I mean the other option if you have a tiller that's in the areas, is you could just tell it till it up a bunch of times, but that's a lot of work because the sod ends up you have to Till it just a ton to break the sod into small enough parts that it doesn't cause problems so
lucky on the additions to that.
Alec Kowalewski 26:13
No, no, I think sod cutting it off is a great idea.
Brooke Edmunds 26:18
And we talked about fertilizing for a moment. So Grady sounds like Gradius heard Alex speak at a previous Master Gardener training and recommended the fertilizing four times a year. And so thinking about it about the holiday, the holiday schedule I think that's what you what you refer to it as the Memorial Day Fourth of July Labor Day and Thanksgiving. So Grady's asking, would it be better to fertilize in April or May rather than waiting until the end, end of May Memorial Day for that spring, fertilizing treatment?
Alec Kowalewski 26:54
Okay, so Grady the the four times a year they're they're just generally All guidelines, and we use those holidays to help people remember so the idea is you're fertilizing twice in the spring and twice in the fall. It doesn't have to be Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day and Thanksgiving. I kind of joke around that you could change these to tax time or Easter. You could also change the Labor Day and thanksgiving one to Halloween or something like that. But the idea is you're doing it twice in the spring and twice in the fall trying to hit periods of mean temperatures that are 60 to 75 degrees when coolest season grass is growing the most, and has the ability to develop the most routes produce the most lateral growth. fertilizing those time of year those times of the year is going to be the most beneficial because that's when the grow the grass is growing and developing and recovering from Tough parts of the year.
Brian Mc Donald 28:03
The only downside to fertilize it in April or earlier spring is if your lawns already fairly healthy because we the lawns are usually growing really fast in April already and with our moisture, what what, for example golf courses want to avoid is they fertilize too much in April, he grows too much grass and then you're mow and you've got that clipping problem where you're mowing but you have too much grass, so they call it mow in hay. So, but that imply, you know, if your turf is lean, there's no reason not to fertilize April but if But, in general turf grows pretty pretty fast. I mean, it's almost the fastest growing month of the year. So that's one of the main reasons why we sort of wait until May it's drier, the term the growth is slowing down a little bit but you know What if whenever your grass is lean? It's okay.
Brooke Edmunds 29:06
Thank you. I might jump down to the list down through our q&a. So john has a question and I'm not sure you guys will be able to answer this, you can always pass it back out about discussing the pros and cons of an eco lawn or an eco lawn, particularly where he's at in the southern Willamette Valley. I know there's a try. I know that you have some trials in Corvallis. So I don't know if maybe that is shedding some light on how this might be used for a home lawn situation.
Brian Mc Donald 29:41
Do you want me to do that one Alec are
Alec Kowalewski 29:45
muted. It's your turn, Ryan.
Brian Mc Donald 29:48
Okay. That's right.
So eco lines were developed by Tom cook, who was professor emeritus at LSU and we Here for 30 years and I actually worked for eight years with and the idea of eco lawn was to have a lawn so first of all with reduced the inputs but by definition a lawn meant to Tom is that you're still mowing it basically. But you're you're and in most cases includes the ingredients are oftentimes rye grass. They are. Yarrow is a big component, because it's the grass. It's the plant that stays green. Well it's kind of your indicator for for irrigation in the summer. It's the plant that stays the greenest it's got clover in it and it has English Daisy, and then some other sometimes flowers in it as well. The flowers tend not to persist, although I've I've heard people let it grow up a lot taller and let the flowers recede. That's inmates, that seems to work, although it's sort of enters a different category in terms of that wasn't how it was envisioned to grow. Because you're not, you know, you're supposed to be molded, you know, whatever, three inches or something. So, the key, there's a couple keys to it, and there's there's some, there's some limitations. Some of the key one of the main keys is in the summertime, the way you control mowing is through limited irrigation. Okay, so if you irrigate it too much, it's still going to it's going to grow too much, you're going to need more. So that's the key. In general, you don't need to fertilize it because it's got the clover in. So and if you don't irrigate it in the summer, the clover is going to go away. So there's all these management things. The other sort of downside is that if you get other weeds that are unsightly How do you control them because the clover is a broadleaf weed and the Yarrow is a broadleaf. weed. So you can, if you're, well, you can, you can play with like half rates we played with half rates of two, four D because 240 is not especially strong clover, and that that tended to work but for home most homeowners that's a pretty
kind of advanced thing to try to do.
But, you know, so the, and the other issue is seed because the seed sizes This is our very so MUCH some of the weed seeds are incredibly tiny and, and oftentimes when I see it, seated, you get the grass comes in fine, the, the Yarrow can be fine or it can be sparse, the clover Can you know, so it's not a lot of times the plants aren't seated consistently across the lawn. So that's it. That's another kind of question. The cool thing because if you don't get the plants evenly then you have. The other thing is, is Tom experimented with different grasses like bank grass, which is a great low maintenance lawn or fine fescue, but they were too aggressive. And he just, he just ended up with a bank grass lawn or a fine fescue lawn. So, yeah. So I hope that answered the question.
Brooke Edmunds 33:25
It was a pretty broad question. So yeah, so
Brian Mc Donald 33:26
I mean, that's the whole goal is once you get established, you know, you mow it, you know, you watered, hopefully monthly three weeks, every three weeks, the month or when the Euro starts going dormant deeply. You know, you can mow it every three weeks. The downside the other weeds are as they'll produce the flower stems that will that, you know, make the thing need mow and even though the rest of the lawn is fine, so that kind of defeats the purpose a little bit. But it can work if you get a good stand. And you know what you're Do it and it comes down to water and it, you know, figuring out how water is really in the summertime.
Brooke Edmunds 34:08
I know when we had a sustainable lawn school out at the Corvallis turf farm everyone was booing and eyeing over the plots and doing some work with the pollinator health team to so be interesting over time to see what comes out of those plots on er B health and things. Hopefully, Vicki that answers your question, too about good choices for ground cover. So one of these echo lines might be a choice there. And how about we go to Steven Steven has a question about watering lawns. So maybe you could speak to what time of day they launch to be watered. And if anybody while they're answering these questions, if you have any more questions, you can feel free to put them into the q&a box. We have some time still
Alec Kowalewski 35:00
Okay, so what time of day should you water?
we're going to quickly back up and talk about photosynthesis. So think about what's needed for photosynthesis. You've got sunlight coming down from the sun, you've got co2 coming into the plant from the atmosphere. You've also got water. So the plant uses those three things to make carbohydrates. So if the sun and the co2 in the water are not all present at the same time, the plant can't maximize photosynthesis. So when we talk about different times a day to irrigate, that kind of crosses off our nighttime irrigation. The other thing that happens to a plant in the middle of the day or the early afternoon is when it gets hot. ant is losing its water to the atmosphere. And it goes into this state where it stops producing carbohydrates and goes into survival mode called photo respiration. So the plants not trying to produce carbohydrates during the heat of the day it's just trying to survive. So if we want to maximize carbohydrate production, and really helping push this plant, we should be irrigating early in the morning, getting the water into the plant, when the sun is just coming out and before the plant is into the heat stress of the day. So irrigating early in the morning right around Dawn is the best time for your irrigation.
Brooke Edmunds 36:47
A couple more questions coming in. I don't know we want to look at Stephens question about he has that old lawn so about a 30 years Old established lawn. But now it seems like it's raising itself up over the years and is up above the edging pavers. And so is there any way at this point to address that build up there? And the thought was that maybe he could peel the sod back and pull some off and then put it back down. So what are some tips on dealing with older lawns and build up?
Brian Mc Donald 37:26
No, that's it. That's actually a great idea what the easiest thing to do and actually golf courses have this similar issue they they're called collar dams, which is the grass that grows around the outside of putting greens and when these top dress it sort of accumulates there at higher rates and then pretty soon the water runs and it doesn't run off the green creates a dam. So the easiest way to solve that problem is run Assad cutter sod cut your turf, pull the Sod off and then take the sod cutter and cut off a second. section and then and then of soil and basically remove that layer of soil and then put the sod back back on and you've solved your problem.
Brooke Edmunds 38:13
Would you have to then take any special care of that law? I mean, you're essentially reciting it with your own sod. Right? Yeah.
Brian Mc Donald 38:20
So I mean the big thing is, you know, I would just recommend cutting the sod as deep as you can initially and then because you can the sod cutters you ran have adjustable depth on them, and then you can depend on how much you know how much you need to lower it. You can either make multiple passes or you can adjust the depth to smaller passes. And then the main thing is whenever you have new sod, the big thing is you got to make sure you water it thoroughly. You know you might also since you've got the Sod off, you might see how compacted the soil is. And just take a tiller or something to make sure that the soil is not super hard. That's going to allow the roots to grow into that soil easier underneath but the main thing with anytime you, you put sod down is irrigation. And so I would do that job in probably the end of September going into our rainy season because then you're not you've got nine months of wet you know, damp weather you're not going to have you're not going to lose because it's hard to it's sort of hard to irrigate those street lawns anyways, which is that's what I think he's talking about, but
Brooke Edmunds 39:44
thank you. I'm going to jump down to Betty Betty has a question is a slow release fertilizer better for a lawn? What are some of the options folks do for fertilizing?
Alec Kowalewski 39:57
So I'm Betty When we talk about fertilizers, this we can use this to answer another question that we got to about are some fertilizers safer than other fertilizers, we'll touch on that a little bit too. So when you buy a fertilizer, if you buy organic fertilizer, it's some kind of organic matter that has to be broken down. Or the nutrients are now in a plant available form. So when you buy a synthetic fertilizer, you're buying the nutrients in their plant available form. So you're just kind of taking out that organic decomposition process. So I know you all have a lot of lectures talk about soil health. So if you apply organic fertilizers, it does drive soil health development, because the microbes in the soil are breaking down the organic fertilizer. If you apply synthetic fertilizers, you're kind Skipping that step, usually with quick release synthetic fertilizers, so you're, you're not pushing that soil health, which you'll hear a lot of other speakers talk about. Okay. And then the other thing to consider is plants have been long adapt to slow release fertilizers, organic sources of nutrients. That's how plant systems have developed without human interaction. So you can have a very nice lawn from organic and slow release fertilizers. I like to remind people, the Master Gardeners that there is a species on the planet that thrives from instant gratification, and that is human beings. We put down fertilizer and we want to see the grass become green after we do it. So that's a lot of times the reason we use quick release fertilizers. lawns can look great with organic slow release. fertilizers. synthetics are an option as well. And typically we use synthetics because they're quick release. And we can see the response relatively quickly.
Brooke Edmunds 42:13
And maybe we could just stick with fertilizers just for one more question. A question came in from Leonard, is there a difference between the summer and the winter fertilizers I think that you might see these on a shelf at a garden center. There's a lot of different options on timing. You can you know,
Brian Mc Donald 42:33
it's it's mostly that's mostly marketing.
You know, they, the one thing so,
you know, the two nutrients that people are that environmentally people are concerned about in general are our nitrogen and phosphorus and basically, if you get leaching or runoff it gets into the rivers and causes problems.
So, but a lot, you know,
what I would do is stick with a lot of fertilizers, I guess now phosphorus got kind of banned in Washington and a lot of fertilizers now don't have phosphorus in them. But I would just stick with a sort of a balanced fertilizer and use the same one all year round. And the plant, I mean, we tend to rec recommend sort of a ratio of like 514 or something, but that's just kind of a guideline. So that's five parts. Nitrogen one part phosphorus, for parts potassium. So that's the you know, a lot of times they're like 2315 or something like that, or 33. Now a lot of them like I said, are like 33, zero 10 or something. So the percentage is, in the first number is nitrogen which also speaks to understanding Like organic versus synthetics, most synthetics well almost all of them are real low nitrogen percentage, which in is of itself doesn't mean anything other than it takes a lot more fertilizer to put the same amount of nitrogen. When we apply fertilizers, what we're doing is we're applying it based on the pounds of nitrogen per per area like per thousand square feet. So, you know, if you've got, let's just say a 5% nitrogen organic to put down a pound of nitrogen, it's 20 pounds of fertilizer, or if you have a 25% fertilizer and fertilizer, it's only for four pounds so you got 20 pounds versus four pounds. So it's a big difference in and but it's still putting the same amount of nitrogen down. It's just more fertilizer because there's there's only 6% nitrogen or 5% nitrogen in that organic Right.
Brooke Edmunds 45:04
Leonard, I saw you have a question about grubs. If you have a specific question, feel free to type that in so we can address your question. How about we jump back to weeds and weed management? A couple of ones we might have missed when we discussed weeds earlier. JOHN wants to know if you guys have any tips or hints to treat horse tail weeds in a lawn, and then I'm not sure if your previous answer also address to Susan's question about quack grass. I wasn't sure so if you could just reiterate,
Alec Kowalewski 45:35
we've heard though, there there's the list of really hard to control weeds in lawns and horse tail and quack grass and both on that list. I would put annual bluegrass in that list. And then I often have people ask me about controlling bent grass and other coolest season grasses that have invaded their grass lawn. So when Get grasses inside grasses and then other weeds like horse tail that spread with rhizomes. They're very hard to control and I think what horse tail, the best way to control that is frequent roundup applications in regular mowing, so knocking it down once a week to deplete the plant's growth. And remember if you apply around up a non selective herbicide that will kill grass. So if you have force tail in your lawn and you spray this it will kill your lawn. But mowing the hosts horsetail down weekly will do a lot to reduce its growth and development and kind of phase it out.
Brooke Edmunds 46:45
I saw that in my neighborhood walks that we were taking we have a neighbor that was doing some spa treatments and they they definitely burn out these big patches in their yard looking like they're getting the dandelions and now they just have these big beds. spots that they have to go back in and try to try to fill in. So So okay, so Lennar did a follow up on his grub question and so it sounds like the grubs are ruining the lawn and then the lawn is getting lifted up almost like a rug. You guys have experience with grubs and what other things might be affecting the lawn come in for the grubs maybe.
Brian Mc Donald 47:25
So does if he could write it and tell me what time of year he's having the problem I mean, we basically have two two insect problems in in Oregon crane fly usually European crane fly and the other one is
I'm blanking What is it allocates
no bugs bill bugs.
So crane fly in general what they do is they breed late summer you European and then they they the larva first of all the larva ball species are the ones doing the damage. Okay, so the damage from crane fly usually you can start seeing in December if it's really bad
you can see it in
but in the spring you know then it gets worse over time and what you see is a thinning of lawns and and it's especially bad when you have really wet years and a few years ago we had that really wet winter and we saw more crane fly damage and the populations of crane fly tend to go up and down. But we generally I always think a crane fly is nature's dispatcher, because it's just removing, you know, and lawns can tolerate really high populations healthy lawns 25 to 50 per square foot. So And the worst case scenario is the lawn sort of thins out reseed it which is not really that bad at all that bad thing so people that you know, I mean, I can't tell you necessarily the right thing for you to do because it's a personal choice but one option is just let them do their thing and then we see if it gets bad enough but in the vast majority of cases it's it's thinning, it's not total lawn destruction. I mean, that's very extremely rare for that to happen. In terms of Bill bugs, what Bill bugs what happens is you notice that in the summertime and it looks like drought stress. And Bill bugs are little tiny, you know, quarter inch long, white things with orange heads on them. Okay. And and the crane fly larvae are longer I don't know if you can see that, you know, maybe that much longer and they're brown and ugly and without legs and stuff. So the best way that you know what you can do, and I guess I should say with Bill bugs, people think well, I'm in here again, why is it brown, and then so then they start soaking it and then they then at some point, they start digging in. If you take a flat shovel and you dig a square in the lawn, you know, six inches square, and you pull it out and you turn it over and you start sifting through. If there's bugs in there, you'll find them. And so unfortunately, with Bill bugs, they tend to come back every year, where populations of crane fly kind of go are drastically up and there's so much predation and they're so subject to sort of bad I think cold weather and things like that. There's not really a correlation between how many adults you see flying around and what the yard damage is, or bill bugs tend to come back to the same place every year. So you end up having to spray for those and there's a you know, usually the sprays are done. April May or June, usually may is a good time for and it's usually put down a systemic insecticide that that because it has longer residual and unfortunately it's usually the ones that are the best or that mo clo print the Neo Knicks which are getting a bat I mean what's you're getting hammered in the media over the beast stuff. So you gotta be you know, you do have to be careful about that, about applying those and not having bees around.
Brooke Edmunds 51:35
So Leonard, if you're not sure which grub you're dealing with, whichever County are in, if you have any pictures, you can send them to the master gardeners, and they can help you identify which which particular insect it is. It sounds like your management might be a little bit different for those
Brian Mc Donald 51:52
who haven't heard about it. Right, Alec, have you ever heard of that raising this little ground raising up
Alec Kowalewski 52:00
I think what is going on is he's saying there's a side layer where the tariff is separating from the soil underneath it.
Brian Mc Donald 52:10
Which that sounds like Bill bugs to me because I bugs bugs
Alec Kowalewski 52:13
and and other Yeah.
Brian Mc Donald 52:16
True grub type things because they're root feeders.
That's why you end up seeing the drought stress. We're praying flyer fullier feeders they feed on the surface.
Brooke Edmunds 52:28
Yeah, and sometimes other critters are coming for the grubs and then yeah, that's thing it like raccoons and things. Yeah,
Brian Mc Donald 52:34
that's right. That's Yeah.
Brooke Edmunds 52:36
So let's get to Jays question. He's been so patient. Thank you, Jay. So he is dealing with velvet grass and has a question about using tenacity sounds like it's an herbicide. Will tenacity affect the tall fescue that's growing in his grass and it sounds like Jays spent countless hours on the stomach removing the velvet grass and digging it out by its roots. There must be To be a better way, do you have any suggestions for j and has it velvet grass issues?
Alec Kowalewski 53:06
So I I know velvet grass is labeled for use or excuse me, tenacity is labeled for use on bank grasses.
Brian Mc Donald 53:17
It's all labeled for tall fescue.
Alec Kowalewski 53:20
So is it labeled for killing tall fescue, Brian or labeled for use on office?
Brian Mc Donald 53:25
No, I think you can use it on tall fescue and it is effective on velvet grass.
Alec Kowalewski 53:30
Okay, so So there you go. You got it. The
Brian Mc Donald 53:32
only thing I'm not sure of is I haven't looked at the label in a while is it? I don't know if it's labeled for home lawns. That's the only thing and some of them so there are different products there's different ways they label for home lawn, some of them you can apply on home lawns but a licensed pesticide applicator has to apply them and sometimes they're just not says not labeled for home lawn. So, but tenacity is effective on velvet grass and you can apply it tall fescue.
Brooke Edmunds 54:02
Great. So Jay, if it's not something that you're able to find it's not labeled for you to apply yourself. Definitely you could probably ask your lawn care company if they're able to do that for you specifically for that. Thank you. Susan still has a question about quack grass elimination. And could you go through that? I think it wasn't addressed when we're talking about horse tails.
Alec Kowalewski 54:26
Sure. So I think
quack grass is going to be in the same category as horse Dale, your your best options are applying non selective herbicides. Systemic ones like glyphosate. There are going to be very few. I can't think of any selective product that you could put on crabgrass to take it out of an existing lawn. The other thing is handle removing it digging it out. Personally for me, I've had quite Crash issues more in landscape beds than in lawns. And when it goes into the landscape beds, I typically dig it out by hand. If it is in your lawn and you start to mow your lawn once a week, that will do a lot to reduce down the grass pressure.
Brooke Edmunds 55:21
Thank you. hopefully that was helpful. Susan. Stephen wants to know if there's any recommended organic fertilizers, is there something they should specifically be looking for?
Brian Mc Donald 55:35
Well, I think
I mean, one of the common ones they use in golf is something called milorganite, which is made in Milwaukee it's a prefilled. It's a prelim organic fertilizer. That's a lot of people have used
you know, the, the,
there, you know, you just need a pill for organic fertilizer. mean that I think organic fertilizers make it I mean, make a ton of sense on like farms where you can use your own. But, you know, I guess the original I should say the original definition of organic fertilizer was, you know, horse manure, cow manure and they use it on a farm until the soil. The problem with organic fertilizers on turf is you need to preserve it, you know, you need to have something to put it down with. But milorganite is a good one. There were some local Lily Miller used to have some good organic fertilizers. I don't think the brand is so much important. The one thing that's interesting about them though, is they don't they're not regulated the same way so you can have some heavy metal like even then the Lord I think has some heavy metals in it. Because it's coming from, you know, sewage sludge or whatever. And it can also have high high amounts of phosphorus and they don't usually, they don't always Put the amounts on there. So, but so I would just, I think, just environmentally, I would look for one that's local, because the whole point is you're trying to help the environment. And given the fact that you got to put 20 times as much fertilizer down as a synthetic, you got to ship it. And so you don't want to be shipping it across the country. If you're trying to do something nice environmentally, so that would be my recommendation is to try to find a local source and I don't have Alex you'd have any names of anything.
Alec Kowalewski 57:38
I know down to earth is available at a lot of local stores and there's a there is a lawn version, down to earth product. I think it's got I was just looking at it 8% nitrogen 3% fast for us. 5% potassium
Brooke Edmunds 58:01
We're almost at the at the top of the hour, but we take one more question. Linda is in coos County, but maybe this applies up in the Willamette Valley. They've been told to add lines to the lawns. Can you discuss the timing and rate of application of lime
Alec Kowalewski 58:19
driving, I can talk about this. So, Lynn, the first thing I would tell you is if you haven't taken a soil test to see if you have a low pH don't apply the lime, you should take a soil test first and see what pH you're at and bonds typically don't need line till they get down below a pH of six. So if we get to a pH of like 5.5, that's time to line your line. And if you put around 25 pounds of lime down in the spring, and then again in the fall, so around 50 pounds total of line that should bring your pH from five, five Back up to 65. So we're talking about 25 or 50 pounds per thousand square feet. So spend the money on a $10 soil test to see if you actually need to put down the line to raise the soil pH. If I had to pick between lining my lawn and fertilizing with something containing nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, I would pick the NP and K every time. I know we have areas that are Research Farm that have relatively low pH, they've never been aligned. And we fertilize them four times a year with nitrogen. And they look fantastic. So thank you soil test first.
Brooke Edmunds 59:45
Yeah, and Jenny was doing a follow up to that asking if OSU Extension does soil test we don't do soil tests in our offices. Right now. We're all working remotely all across the state. Some of our offices might do pH test, but we're not Offering we're not able to offer that right now. We do have a nice list of commercial labs that we can send. So we are at our time, there are a couple questions. So john and Patrick will be following up with you individually on your questions. And then thank you everyone for joining us. And other there's a lot of resources that Alec in the beaver turf team have put together. So everybody that registered, we'll send out some links to you on more researches and readings that you can do on your lawns. So thank you both to Alec and Brian. I really appreciate you spending the hour with us. It's always wonderful to chat with you guys.
All right. Thanks, everybody. Bye bye.
Brian Mc Donald 1:00:46
Yep. Thank you.
Thanks for joining us for another OSU Extension Garden Q&A. This session focuses on home lawns in the Willamette Valley and features the OSU BeaverTurf team, Dr. Alec Kowalewski and Brian Mc Donald. This session was recorded live online in mid May 2020.
Some questions covered include: when is the best time(s) to fertilize lawns, what type of fertilizer is better, how do I renovate an older lumpy lawn, what can I do to manage problematic weeds like Poa annua and crabgrass.