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Guest Column: Early fall lawn care pays off next spring

Ryan Oberhelman is Wallowa County Vegetation Manager

Published on September 18, 2018 3:05PM


Though it feels like summer is over and fall is ramping up, if you are one of the many people battling pesky lawn weeds like bur buttercup and spotted knapweed, now is the time to start taking action against next year’s weeds.

Early fall provides a great opportunity to over-seed lawns with perennial grasses that will soon germinate and grow robust root systems throughout the fall, winter and spring.

Late spring, these grasses will provide a thick groundcover that will outcompete noxious weeds and help to choke them out.

Any mix of fescue, bluegrass and ryegrass works well for yards. I like to have all three in my mix.

Check the seed inspection date on the package. Use seed that is more than a year old, and you might as well be throwing money onto the ground.

Broadcast the seed across dry, thin and bare patches of your lawn generously. Adding fertilizer is essential, too. You can rake in the seed with a lawn rake if your topsoil is particularly compact.

Water! Water! Water!

The key to a successful seeding requires consistent and plentiful watering. Place a baking pan on a level spot in the middle of the yard to determine how much you are spraying over a given time. A quarter- to half-inch a day is adequate. Water at dusk to maximize the amount of water soaked into the soil and not lost to evaporation.

When fall rains begin to become more consistent and temperatures drop, stop watering. You may want to apply more fertilizer to assist in root growth around Halloween.

Next spring, when the emerging grass is at least two inches tall, you can start to think about herbicide and fertilizer treatments. And hopefully, next summer, your lawn with be thick with lush grass and weed-free.

Remember, weeds exist and thrive in places where we give them opportunity. Keeping landscapes filled with healthy perennial grasses is the best way to prevent the arrival and spread of noxious weeds.

As always, the Wallowa County Vegetation Department is available to provide consultation and financial assistance for weed control. Thank you for doing your part to fight the spread of noxious weeds.

Ryan Oberhelman is Wallowa County Vegetation Manager.



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