When I need tips on managing lawns, I count on Bill Carlos, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Washoe County horticulturist. Bill has been advising on turf for more than 20 years. In his recent "Nevada's Horticulture Connection," available online at www.unce.unr.edu, he gives some good advice on mowing, watering and fertilizing your lawn in the fall.
Bill says that when we mow at this time of year, we need to mow high. Do not mow your lawn too close before winter, as this can predispose it to winter injury.
Bill also reminds us that as the weather cools down, your lawn's water needs decrease. So, you can reduce your watering by almost 50 percent.
This is a good time to fertilize your lawn, according to Bill. One more fertilization during the first part of November will also give your lawn a boost. Apply one pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn. To calculate actual pounds of nitrogen, divide 100 by the first number on the fertilizer bag, which is nitrogen. For example, if you have a 27-4-7 fertilizer, divide 100 by 27. The answer is 3.7 pounds. This is the amount of fertilizer to apply to 1,000 square feet of lawn for one feeding. If you have 5,000 square feet of turf, multiply 3.7 pounds by 5 and apply 18.5 pounds for that area. If you have 800 square feet, then multiply 0.80 by 3.7 and apply 2.96 or 3 pounds of fertilizer.
Here are the application rates for 1,000 square feet of lawn for some different types of fertilizers: 16-16-16 - apply 6.25 pounds; 21-0-0 Ð apply 4.76 pounds; 25-5-15 - apply 4.0 pounds.
Many formulations of fertilizers are available. By calculating the actual nitrogen amount, you apply only what your lawn needs.
In addition to following Bill's mowing, watering and fertilizing recommendations, you might consider aerating your lawn. Fall aeration can improve water and nutrient infiltration, reduce runoff, loosen compacted soil, increase oxygen to the roots, encourage deeper root development, and reduce thatch. Pulling plugs out of the lawn 3 inches deep, 3 inches or less apart can improve a lawn's health and vigor. The soil should be moderately moist, and you should aerate before you fertilize. Aeration is an important part of lawn care. Thatching is rarely recommended, except for when your lawn is in extremely poor condition.
For more detail on good lawn management practices, see the publication, "Controlling and Preventing Thatch," at www.unce.unr.edu, or call for a hard copy.
You are welcome to join me for a free class I will be teaching on "Pre-emergent Herbicides - Fall Strategies for Spring Weed Control," 6Ð7 p.m. Thursday at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension conference room, 2621 Northgate, Suite 12, Carson City. Applying preemergent herbicides can greatly reduce your spring weeding chores.
For more information, e-mail email@example.com or call me at 887-2252. You can "Ask a Master Gardener" by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call your local University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office. Check out many useful horticulture publications at www.unce.unr.edu.
-- JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.