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Missouri weather makes lawn management difficult

Media contact:

Jason Vance
Writer
University of Missouri Extension
Phone: 573-882-9731
Email: VanceJJ@missouri.edu

Published: Thursday, June 26, 2014

Story source:

Lee Miller, 573-882-5623

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Any grass can be grown in Missouri, but none grow well because of the state’s cold winters and hot summers.

University of Missouri Extension turfgrass specialist Lee Miller says both warm season and cool season grasses can be grown. However, they are under numerous pest pressures during times when optimal growth is not possible due to either high or low temperatures.

Miller says managing the different grass species the right way is the key to successful lawn growth.

“It’s best to seed cool season species such as tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass in the fall,” Miller says. “Conversely, warm season species, such as zoysiagrass and bermudagrass, should be established, fertilized and aggressively managed while we are sweating since they are growing at their maximum then.”

Cool season seedlings can’t compete with weeds during the summer, due to environmental stresses such as heat, humidity, and disease. Miller says the best time to seed is in the fall around mid-September, when environmental stress for young seedlings is in the rear-view mirror instead of the windshield. Likewise, fertilizing cool season grasses should also be done in September and October. Fertilizing during warm weather adds more stress to the grass.

For warm season grasses, Miller says do exactly the opposite of cool season grasses.

“Sprigging, sodding or plugging to establish warm season grass needs to be done when the weather is hot,” Miller says. “Establish warm season grasses during June or early July, and fertilize in June, July and August.”

Miller says knowing the difference between cool season and warm season grasses is important for managing lawns.

“Warm season species in your yard will go dormant during the winter and will entirely turn a straw brown color,” Miller says. “Conversely cool season species will stay green pretty much year round, or only slightly brown during the winter months.  Come early spring the cool season species will be the first to green up.”