Note: Randy will be on vacation until early June. The next GardenLine e-mail tip will be issued on June 10.
Green Up The Grass: Randy Clarifies!
Despite the really nice soaking rains we've had since May 14, there are still an inordinate amount of "yellow" lawns in the Houston area. That's likely because we've had little rain since mid-April. But, it might also be caused other issues — like improper fertilization, a lack of iron, or even too much chlorine in the water.
In this week's tip sheet, I'll clarify a few points on greening up the grass during the summer months. (Summer officially begins Fri. June 21, you know.)
Staying true to the fertilization schedule is your best bet.
Keeping a consistent level of moisture through watering is critical when we aren't getting Mother Nature's rains.
Have you ever noticed that, if you are consistent with fertilization, the grass is always the greenest immediately following a good rain? It's because natural rain is at the perfect pH, and that helps the grass absorb fertilizer and iron. There are more scientific theories that point to chlorophyll and dormancy, but I'm convinced it's because of the slightly acid pH of rain.
After a good rain, if you're lawn is still really yellow, you probably aren't fertilizing correctly.
In the past, I've recommended iron supplements when things turned yellow. However, if you've paid close attention, you have noticed I rarely recommend Ironite anymore. That's because there many more natural sources of iron just as good, but that don't cause iron stains on concrete. Actino-Iron, Dr. Iron, GreenSand and others are good choices.
Adding a one-time-only "nitrogen fix" is a great way to green up a lawn if you're otherwise following "the schedule." If you can find it in a granular-style, 21-0-0 is perfect. Ammonium sulfate is also known as a 21-0-0 fertilizer. While there are plenty of liquid iron sources out there, I think turfgrass responds better to granular or "wettable powder." Liquid iron may work quickly, but the granular type stays around longer.
Scotts has a brand-new product called Green Max good for a nitrogen-only fix — no need to add additional iron. It's a 22-2-2 — darn close to being nitrogen-only — and it's guaranteed not to burn if it doesn't get adequately watered in.
But wait!!! "I thought you hated Scotts," some listeners might say. No! I hate atrazine-based weed and feeds, and that's why I don't like Scotts Bonus S. My only problem with their regular fertilizers is that they're too high in nitrogen for my taste. However, I also recently learned that Scotts is working on developing a Gulf Coast-specific fertilizer. Hmmm!?!
What about a fast-acting 3-1-2 ratio, such as Nitro-Phos Imperial 15-5-10? Yes, this too can be a supplement in the summertime, instead of a 21-0-0. But as with the 21-0-0, make sure to water it in well to avoid burning.
Sometimes, yellowing is attributed to high levels of chlorine in the water supply. That can be countered with dechlorinators. Too much chlorine can also lead to take-all patch. Do the test for take-all patch before throwing all kinds of green-up products at the problem.
If you applied any fertilizer or pre-emergent herbicide May 12 or 13, before the heavy rain on the 14th, you may need to re-apply this week. Look at a previous write-up I've done about the rules of re-application following a gully-washer.
GardenLine Appearance Sat. May 22
Lone Star Ace Hardware, 2111 Rayford Road
This weekend, we will be visiting our friends at Lone Star Ace Hardware, 2111 Rayford Road south of The Woodlands and just a couple of miles east of Interstate 45.
What's really cool is that just about every product I just mentioned above for "green up" will be available there. Here's a list of products that need to go down right now that I know Lone Star Ace (and other Ace Hardware stores) will have on hand this Saturday.
Nitro-Phos Super Turf
Nitro-Phos Pre-Emergent with Barricade
Nitro-Phos Iron & Soil Acidifier
Scotts Green Max
As you know, we love to give stuff away at visits like this. And since Nitro-Phos is the sponsor of the event, we'll have some great freebies like
Nitro-Phos Hibiscus Food, Plumeria Food, Bouganvillea Food and Nitro-Phos Color Express. And we will draw winners for three bags of Nitro-Phos Super Turf!
Since this is my last appearance until June 12, if there's something you need me to look at, you couldn't pick a better time to bring it by. And while Ace is not a true "garden center," please bring plant and insect samples in re-sealable zipper storage bags, so we don't spread any diseases or bugs around.
Randy Lemmon's GardenLine is heard 6-10 a.m. Saturdays
and 7-10 a.m. Sundays, exclusively on NewsRadio 740 KTRH.
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