Thursday, March 27, 2014

Are my Greens Still Alive?

Meteorologists in Iowa are calling it the coldest winter on record in the last 35 years, but what does that mean for my turf? Is it still alive? 

The statewide avg. temperature in the last three months was 14.7 degrees, well below the 22.1-degree normal, according to State Climatologist Harry Hillaker. In addition to the extreme cold, snowfall varied considerably acrosas the state. Western Iow received far less snowfall and had a higher frequency of days above freezing. This could raise more concerns because of the increased exposure to the elements. 

Research from Hoffman et al., (2010) at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst found that annual bluegrass has a lethal temperature with 50% death (LT50) at an approximately 0.1F, while creeping bentgrass has an LT50 between -6 and -16F. These numbers are of particular concerns in relation to the 15 (Shenandoah) to 50 (Decorah) subzero days this winter across Iowa. Direct low temperature death has several factors that include hardiness level, freezing rate, thawing rate, number of times frozen and post-thawing treatment (Beard, 1973).

Below you will find a chart looking at the low temperature hardiness of several turfgrass species produced by Beard (1973).

Low-temperature hardiness
Turfgrass species
Rough bluegrass

Creeping bentgrass
Kentucky bluegrass

Colonial bentgrass
Annual bluegrass

Tall fescue
Perennial ryegrass

With hopefully the cold weather behind us and the last little bit of snow melting, we can start looking towards the 2014 growing season. The first step is to determine whether my greens or athletic field is alive. The best way to tell is by taking a soil sample (circular saw works well) and placing it in a greenhouse or inside where it will receive adequate light, nutrients, water, and warmer temperatures. If you begin to see new green color and growth within a few weeks, you should be fine. 

The following pictures are from Brent Smith while visiting western Illinois. I feel with a little care and fertilizer in the spring these greens should be looking great by late May, early June. In some cases, it is just a guessing game, but there is enough green tissue in the picture to convince me that they will be good. If you have large areas without green tissue, alternative options may need to be considered (sodding or interseeding).


Friday, March 21, 2014


 Nick Christians
March 21, 2011

Here is the third group of turf bulletins from Mary Broadfoot, student in Hort 451.  These are on weeds.

Canada Thistle


Yelow Woodsorrel

Monday, March 17, 2014


Nick Christians
March 17, 2014

Here are three more bulletins from Mary Broadfoot.  These were prepared as a special project in the advanced turf course, Hort 451.  Three bulletins on turf diseases were posted on March 13, 2014.  These three are on insects.  Three more on weeds will follow later.

 Japanese Beetle

Bluegrass Billbug

Chinch Bugs

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Nick Christians
March 13, 2014

I am currently teaching the advanced turf course, Hort 451, on the web.  A part of that course, each student completes a paper or project.  Mary Broadfoot, a senior in Animal Ecology, chose to do 9 extension type bulletins.  Three of these are on turf diseases, three are on insects, and three are on weeds.

These tuned out so well that I have decided to share them on the blog site.  I will include them three at a time over the next few days.  The first three are on diseases.  She chose Rust, Leaf Spot, and Dollar Spot.

They are attached as pdf files below.  You can get the full text by clicking on the individual words below.  Several of the pictures used are from the internet.  She has sited each location from which information was used.


 Leaf Spot

Dollar Spot

Friday, March 7, 2014

Weed Control in Home Lawns

The complete elimination of weeds in the lawn is not a practical goal for many homeowners. A more realistic approach is to minimize weed populations through various control measures. An attractive, well-maintained lawn is an important component of a home landscape. Unfortunately, an infestation of weeds can reduce the aesthetic quality and vigor of the turf.

Today's blog is a revised Iowa State University extension publication on Weed Control in Home Lawns. The publication focuses on cultural, mechanical, and chemical practices that can be used to control weeds. Weed control of sedges, broadleafs, annuals, and perennials are highlighted below. In addition, you will find a comprehensive list of pre/post emergence options in the market today as well as a table on postemergence herbicide effectiveness.

The entire extension publication is attached in pdf form. To download the publication, click on the following link Weed Control in Home Lawns.

or the following address: