Doug Soldat, UW-Extension Turfgrass and Urban Soil Specialist
Department of Soil Science
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Total Time – 2:52
0:15 – Tips for a good lawn
0:30 – Fertilizer/weed control
0:59 – Best grasses for Wisconsin
1:17 – Top questions about lawn care – dog spots
1:53 – Best time to fertilize
2:06 – Fall lawn care
2:39 – Lead out
Lorre Kolb: Taking care of lawns in the summer. We’re visiting today with Doug Soldat, University of Wisconsin-Extension Turfgrass and Urban Soil Specialist, Department of Soil Science, UW-Madison in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Lorre Kolb. What tips and suggestions do you have for people who want the green grass on their side of the fence?
Doug Soldat: One of the most important things you can do is have a sharp mower blade. Half of Americans don’t do anything to their lawn other than mow it. If you want the best results, sharpen your blade every year.
Lorre Kolb: What about putting on fertilizer, weed control?
Doug Soldat: Fertilization is an important step to not only having a good looking lawn, but one that benefits the environment. So a thick stand of grass actually slows down the water that’s running across and helps it soak into the ground. And our research is showing that if you fertilize two to three times a year, that’s kind of the sweet spot for having a nice thick lawn, but not getting towards the point where we’re doing damage to the environment with too much fertilizer.
Lorre Kolb: What types of grass are best for Wisconsin climates?
Doug Soldat: The best grasses for Wisconsin are, for sunny lawns, Kentucky Blue Grass, that grass is king. For shady sites you want to mix in Fine Fescue, and specifically Chewings Fine Fescue, Hard Fescue and Red Fescue.
Lorre Kolb: What are some issues that are of most concern to homeowners, how are they trying to fix their lawns?
Doug Soldat: One of the top questions we get every year is about dog spots. The dog pees in the lawn and that spot dies and probably the best solution to that is to actually train your dog to pee in a spot off of the lawn. But if you can’t do that, you can try following the urination with water, that will dilute down the urine and not kill the grass, that’s hard to do too, so really just be prepared to fix those spots with a bit of topsoil, a grass seed mixture and maybe a dash of fertilizer.
Lorre Kolb: When is the best time to fertilizer your lawn?
Doug Soldat: The best times to fertilize, we recommend sort of following a holiday schedule, so Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day. The Fourth of July application is maybe optional.
Lorre Kolb: What should people think about in the fall, what should people do to their lawns to get it ready for the winter?
Doug Soldat: Fall is the best time to control weeds and also to seed thin areas, too. So a lot of times in the fall, we’re thinking about moving on to other things, but it’s actually the best time to take care and improve your lawn. We recommend using a liquid rather than a granular weed killer. Liquid is more effective, and you can spot treat much more effectively, that is just spray the weed that you are trying to control. Between August 15 and September 15 is the best time to put down new grass seeds.
Lorre Kolb: We’ve been visiting today with Doug Soldat, University of Wisconsin-Extension Turfgrass and Urban Soil Specialist, Department of Soil Science, UW-Madison in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Lorre Kolb.