Lawn – Killed by Overfertilization

Q: I had my fescue lawn soil tested and got detailed results from my Extension Service office. It instructed me to use a 15-0-15 fertilizer. While my lawn is fescue, the only 15-0-15 I could find was for centipedegrass. Thinking that it was spring and I should use a pre-emergent, I bought a weed and feed for centipede lawns. Within a week or two I noticed brown patches in my fescue; now my lawn is half dead. What do I do now? It’s been six weeks since I spread the weed and feed.

A: In the immortal words of Homer Simpson, “D-oh!!!”

You’ve diagnosed your problem correctly. While most weed and feed products can be used on fescue, centipede weed and feed can not. The atrazine it contains kills fescuegrass just as surely as it kills any other weed – and fescue would be a weed IF you had a centipedegrass lawn.

But you don’t have a centipedegrass lawn and now your fescue is very unhappy! And I must convey news that will make you unhappy as well: turf experts recommend that you not plant seed for six months after applying atrazine. The lingering herbicidal chemical will likely prevent fescue seed from germinating this spring.

You are welcome to try planting seed to see if any comes up. We have had lots of rain in the past month and atrazine is very water-soluble. If rainfall has diluted it enough, you may get successful germination. You could also try laying fescue sod in the dead area, hoping that it can better survive the atrazine.

Need I say it? Next time, READ THE LABEL!

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