KC Gardens

Don’t forget to fertilize warm season grasses

Buffalo grass.
Buffalo grass.

From Dennis Patton:

Warm season grasses like zoysia and buffalo tend to get overlooked. It’s all about the dark green, lush bluegrass and fescue lawns that grow in so many metro yards. I must admit I rarely talk about warm season turf. I am a fan of cool season grasses. But I do realize many people have lawns other than bluegrass and tall fescue. Just like their cool season-loving cousins, warm season grasses also need to be fed. This time of year is ideal as they will be at their peak! They love the hot weather.

Although many people think warm season lawns are low maintenance because they take heat and more drought they still need good care for best growth. These grasses need to eat and June is the ideal time to fertilize. Since they thrive in the hot, summer weather, they respond best to a fertilizer application at this time. Nitrogen is the most important nutrient that zoysia and buffalo need.

Zoysia does not need as much nitrogen as it grows more slowly and is also prone to thatch. When it comes to fertilizing a zoysia lawn, less is more. One and one-half to 2 pounds nitrogen per 1,000 square feet during the season is sufficient. Split the total amount and make two applications, one application in mid-June and another around mid-July. Slow-release N is preferable, but quick-release will be okay to use.

Buffalo requires the least amount of nitrogen of all lawn species commonly grown in Kansas. It will survive and persist with no supplemental nitrogen. However, giving the lawn 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per season will improve color and density. This application should be made in early to mid-June. For a little darker color, fertilize it as described for zoysia. Caution: do not apply more than a total of 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet in one season. Buffalo tends to get weedy when given too much nitrogen, so a slow-release fertilizer is preferable.

You either love or hate warm season grasses. But those that do embrace the warm season grasses need to know how to properly care for them just as the cool season lovers. One last thought: cool season lovers, don’t get any bright ideas about summer feeding. These lawns really do not need any more food until fall because summer is their stressful time.