Sharpe's Point

Kenny Sharpe

Valentine’s Day may be all about roses and your sweetheart, but it is also the time to put out your crabgrass preventer.

If you have been having problems with crabgrass in your lawn grasses, now is the time to get that problem under control. If you have a warm season lawn of carpet or St. Augustine, now is your only chance for the year.

Crabgrass can be prevented with a pre-emergent herbicide that contains dithiopyr, the active ingredient found in such products as Dimension, Crabgrass Preventer 2 and Crab-Ex. Not only will they prevent crabgrass seeds from germinating, but these products will also control small seedlings that might have already germinated before you made your application. This will give you a little wiggle room on timing.

Another product that can be used contains the active ingredients benefin and trifluralin together, and it can be purchased as Crabgrass Preventer. This product will only be good for pre-emerge activity and will not pick up any early germinating crabgrass.

The last product you might consider using contains the active ingredient pendimethalin. This product can be purchased as Scott’s Halts, and the advantage here is it will also help control goosegrass if that is a problem. Pendimethalin will only have pre-emerged control.

Another February project is to cut back your ornamental grasses before the new growth emerges.

The dried plumes and leaves look attractive this time of the year as they sway in the wind, but you need to remove the dried foliage to make room for a more attractive plant this growing season. Take some sharp shears and cut the plants to within 2-3 inches of the ground. You’ll only have to endure the sheared look for a few weeks before fresh new foliage appears.

Ground covers should also be evaluated now for foliage quality and be pruned prior to spring if needed. I am primarily thinking of liriope, which can be affected by the heat of summer, droughts and cold winter winds. In most cases, it is best to cut it back yearly to maintain an attractive border or bed. Just like ornamental grasses, you will get a quick recovery and be rewarded with nice, clean foliage.

Cutting back liriope or other ground covers can be accomplished easily with your grass string trimmer. Just go along the border and take the foliage off down to within 2-3 inches of the soil line. Be careful not to let the string hit your ornamental plants. I see a lot of “weed eater damage” that knocks off the bark and can result in girdling the plant. This type of damage also attracts insects and invites disease problems.

Another option is to use your lawn mower in an open bed of ground cover. Set your mower height to 2-3 inches and then mow in one direction. Next, mow over the ground cover in the opposite direction to give you a cleaner and more uniform cut. Be sure to use a sharp blade.

Monkey grass, also known as Mondo grass, is a slower growing ground cover and should rarely be pruned back. The recovery time for monkey grass is very long, and the foliage tends to maintain its attractiveness and hold up to our environment nicely without pruning.

For more information on these or related topics, contact Kenny at (225) 686-3020 or visit our website www.lsuagcenter.com/livingston.

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