No one likes bare ground in the lawn - it is difficult to mow and dirt blows everywhere. If you'd like to see grass instead of bald patches in your yard, it is not too early to plan to re-establish spots in the lawn that are bare or exhibit a light stand of turfgrass. Let's discuss what is required for a healthy stand of bermudagrass: Sunlight is the major factor influencing the growth of grasses, followed by moisture and then nutrients such as nitrogen.
In a short period of time (10 to 15 years), trees in a landscape mature, and the shade cast by the trees' canopies can weaken grass stands underneath. A way to limit shading is to limb up the trees so the grass receives four to five hours of direct sunlight a day. See my article on proper tree pruning at www.noble.org/ag/Horticulture/PruningTools. Another option is to strategically remove trees that are blocking the sunlight.
The second factor limiting growth of turfgrass is moisture. To maintain a certain level of quality, a good moisture rule of thumb is 1 inch to 1.5 inches per week. Bermudagrass will vigorously respond to fertility and irrigation/rainfall. To make the most of this knowledge, apply fertilizer in mid April when we generally receive annual rainfall. Fertilize the established bermudagrass at 2 lb. to 6 lbs. (average of 4 lbs./yr) of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet, depending on the level of use and quality desired.
If allowed, turfgrass will serve us well until we limit sunlight, moisture and nutrients. This information regarding turfgrass and its selection can be found in a forthcoming publication entitled "Turf Selection in Southern Oklahoma and North Central Texas" by D. Gerken, G.E. Barlow and D.C. Annis, Jr. It will be out this spring.
Position Update: Effective Jan. 1, I became an event and tour specialist in the Ag Division. As most of you are aware, I have been a horticulture specialist at the Foundation since 1979. In my new position, I will assist with educational events and tours. The requests for tours, especially from school groups, have increased significantly, and this new position will allow us to schedule more tours and other events.
We are planning to establish some "hands on" sites to help educate both students and adults. I encourage you to contact Shan Ingram, education and special projects manager, and inquire about potential tours and other events. Information about public events is available on our Web site at www.noble.org, or you can call the Ag Helpline at (580) 224-6500.
In addition to my new duties, I will continue to handle some Helpline calls and will do limited "homeowner" consultation. I have absolutely enjoyed my career serving as your horticulture specialist for the past 26 years.
Another horticulture specialist has been hired and will begin employment in early January. Information about him will be in the next issue.