Those aren’t weeds, they are seed heads!
The cool season turfgrasses growing in Kansas City have been in full-blown seed head production mode in the last week. The common lawn grasses, Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue are prolific seed head producers. Seed head production requires energy from the plant, so it is likely the turf will not only look stemmy due to the seed stalks, but the turfgrass may even thin out. Don’t worry, this is quite a natural occurrence and is nothing to worry about. The seed head production should run its course by around June 1st.
What can I do to keep it from looking so rough?
- Fertilize soon!
- Keep your mower sharp
- Mow more frequently if possible
- Resist the urge to mow shorter
- Water regularly
Michigan State University Extension recommends a fertilizer application following the seed head flush to help the turf recover. If you haven’t fertilized yet this spring or fertilized back in the early spring, now might be a good time to do that. If you are on our lawn-care program the fertilizer we use is feeding your lawn right through this seed head flush.
Keep your mower blade sharp and don’t lower the mowing height to try and remove seed heads. Annual bluegrass produces seed heads below the standard 1/8-inch mowing height on golf course putting greens. We are seeing fescue plants produce seed heads at about 2” of height. Lowering the mowing height is not going to solve the seed head problem. Cutting the lawn short this time of year will cause the grass to put all of its energy into leaf blade recovery. This will leave the roots starved and could lead to the plant being un-able to feed itself through the summer.
Won’t my lawn seed itself?
For those that think the lawn is going to be reseeded by the natural seed head production, think again. Even if the seed was allowed to reach maturity, which would take about four months without mowing, allowed to dry, and then harvested, you’d still need to make sure that seed would find a home in the soil in order to germinate. If you need to fill in some areas in your lawn, it’ll be easier and more effective to have the lawn seeded in the fall with a good quality turf-type-tall-fescue.
As is always the case, give us a call if you have any questions about your lawn in particular, give us a call. We will dispatch one of our experts to your lawn. When they are there, they will let you know if you are experiencing the same seed head ugliness we all are. Depending on what they find, there may be a chance that you have something more sinister going on in your lawn.