April is National Lawn Care Month. While most homeowners care for an acre or two of grass in our lawns, Bob Wolverton maintains an 11-acre golf facility along with baseball, softball, soccer and intermural fields at Columbus State University (CSU) in Columbus, GA. The grass he grows not only has to look great, but has to perform well, too. He shares some of his insider knowledge to help keep our home lawns looking their best this month and all year long.
Wolverton says one common problem for home lawns is overwatering. “A lot of people like to get out in the spring and get those irrigation systems up and running,” he points out. “There’s definitely a need to make sure the system is working well, but there’s no need to go out and start overwatering your grass.” Incorporating a moisture sensor in your system will help ensure that you don’t overwater the lawn, which causes more harm than good.
Homeowners and professionals alike have been dealing with excess rain this winter and spring, posing a threat to lawn health. “The problem is the root zones become so saturated that a lot of movement or heavy machinery across could sheer off roots, so we have to be concerned about that,” Wolverton explains.
Whenever the ground is wet, he suggests minimizing traffic on your lawn, especially from vehicles or equipment. “Be careful getting out there with the lawnmower while the grass is wet, so you don’t cause extra compaction from the machinery.” Wet soil compacts easily, and then the roots can’t get the oxygen and nutrients they need to grow strong healthy grass.
The heavy rains can also encourage disease and fungi. “We don’t really know 100% what the disease pressure is going to be yet,” Wolverton says. Walk your lawn periodically and keep an eye out for diseased patches or fungal growth, and treat any affected area immediately. Catching the problem early will make it easier to treat and help minimize damage.
Wolverton says that just like overwatering, over-fertilizing can do more damage than good. “The universities do soil testing for under $25. You can have people come out or do it yourself,” he suggests. With information from a soil test, you can give your lawn the specific nutrients missing from your soil. “So you are applying what is necessary for the plant, not just whatever comes in the bag.”
Aeration and Dethatching
“If you want to have a bit better lawn, dethatching and aerating in the spring is great,” Wolverton says. Wait until late spring or early summer when the growing season is in full swing. “Especially with the excess moisture this year, to be able to vent your soils and get some gas exchange is a huge benefit.”
If you have questions about caring for your lawn or need help identifying a disease or fungus, our Certified Turfgrass Professionals are happy to help. Contact us at 770-832-8608 or info@NGTurf.com.
Wolverton earned a degree in plant science from Rutgers University, and has worked on several premier courses, such as Augusta National, Winged Foot, Saucon Valley and Ridgewood. He also built the Bayonne Golf Club in New Jersey and helped build the Congaree Club in South Carolina. He joined CSU’s athletic staff in 2016.