When considering installing or renovating an Illinois lawn, selection of the proper turfgrass species is one of the most important decisions to be made. Lawns are meant to be permanent, and therefore a grass species should be selected that has been adapted to the Illinois climate. The species selected must also be capable of meeting certain aesthetic expectations of the homeowner.
Many lawn problems result from the failure to address these subjects during the grass selection process.
Zoysiagrass is used primarily in regions of the country south of Michigan. This species is not compatible with cool-season turfgrasses. The biggest drawback is that zoysiagrass becomes dormant and turns brown in mid-fall and does not re-green until mid-spring. The lack of winter color, slow establishment rate, low mowing heights and proneness to develop heavy thatch layers make it incompatible with the other cool season turfgrasses. Therefore, it should not be grown in Michigan.
Annual bluegrass is better adapted to cool, wet climates. Because of the shallow root systems, this grass dies out during hot, dry periods, especially in areas where irrigation is not performed. The inconsistent nature of this grass reduces its acceptance for use in Michigan.
Annual ryegrass is a stemmy, coarse-textured grass that germinates and establishes very rapidly in lawns. This grass only persists for one growing season or less. The need for quick germination and cover can often be satisfactorily met with the improved perennial ryegrass cultivars.
All warm season grasses should not be considered.
Because Michigan is surrounded on 3 sides by water, water quality is an extremely important issue. Throughout many areas of Michigan, home lawns are grown on phosphorus-rich soils that do not require phosphorus fertilizer applications to maintain a healthy turf. Soil tests should be conducted before adding additional phosphorous to the soil when none may be needed. If phosphorous levels are already at acceptable levels, then a phosphorous-free lawn fertilizers should be applied.
Whenever applying fertilizers, make certain never to apply the products to hard surfaces such as sidewalks, driveways, and of course road surfaces. When the product is applied to these paved areas, it is certain to be washed away and will end up in the watershed.
It is recommended not only to not apply to paved surfaces, but to also maintain a 5' buffer strip around these hard surfaces to reduce possible runoff.
from the thumb south, it is Zone 5 and the upper penninsula is has some 5, but is most Zone 4 or lower
Weed pests: crabgrass, dandelions and the 2 most common lawn problems. Ground ivy is also a troublesome weed that is somewhat difficult to control. There are a number of broadleaf weeds that are common to Michigan, but most of these can be spot treated with an effective herbicide
There are several diseases that could potentially infect turf in Michigan. The general environmental conditions occurring on the turf, how the turf is managed, and weather conditions all impact turfgrass disease development. Turf diseases need favorable conditions to develop. The best defense against diseases is to maintain healthy turf through sound cultural practices, avoiding favorable conditions for disease.
Disease outbreaks often occur when turfgrasses are not managed properly or are under extreme stress, such as from poor soil conditions or perhaps weather conditions.
Promoting healthy growth and avoiding conditions that cause stress to your turfgrass is the best way to prevent a severe disease outbreak. Stressed lawns are an open invitation for a lawn disease to gain a foothold. Optimal maintenance practices are the best way of avoiding stressed turfgrass.
Even if a pathogen is present in the soil, infection will not occur unless the environmental conditions are conducive to disease development. Once turf diseases have become active, they can cause heavy damage if not treated properly. Here is a list of common diseases to Michigan lawns:
Lawn diseases should properly identified before trying to treat. Local, professional lawncare services are your best source for identifying and treating lawn care diseases.