Winter Green in the Lawn

Blanco: Road Home has enough money to pay eligible applicants
December 12, 2007
December 14
December 14, 2007
Blanco: Road Home has enough money to pay eligible applicants
December 12, 2007
December 14
December 14, 2007

With the cooler weather this time of year, our warm-season turf-grasses will soon be going into a dormant state throughout the winter until the changing season brings them back to life in the spring. There are some hardy gardeners who love to have a green lawn throughout the year, so an over-seeding of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) is done at this time of the year, now through mid-November.

Perennial ryegrass is one of the major turfgrasses in the northern United States. It does not act as a perennial in Louisiana, however. It is used in the same way as annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum), which is to establish temporary lawns and to overseed warm-season grasses. Perennial ryegrass is finer leaved and darker green than annual and is the preferred grass for overseeding athletic fields and home lawns.

Planting time is important in ryegrass establishment and seeding rate is also important. The ryegrasses are bunch grasses, so not planting enough seed produces a thin, clumpy turf. In a lawn situation, you need to seed perennial ryegrass at five to 10 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet. After seeding, remember that ryegrass is a living turf just like the warm-season ones. It requires fertilizing, watering, mowing, and other care to produce the desired effect. So if you enjoy a green lawn most of the year and enjoy mowing a few more months, perennial ryegrass may be for you. If you enjoy watching the brown lawn not growing for a few months, sit back and watch your neighbor mow his or her lawn while you put another log on the fire.

Winter Gardens

Vegetable producers and home gardeners are making plans for winter gardens during this time. Now is a great time to establish your vegetable garden by preparing your rows, taking a soil sample and selecting what you plan on growing.

You need to select an area that receives full sunlight, has excellent drainage and has excellent soil conditions that will provide adequate internal soil movement. If you are considering planting a garden, you need to get a copy of the “Louisiana Vegetable Planting Guide” from the LSU AgCenter.

Now is a great time to plant spinach, carrots, mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, strawberries and beets.


A common misconception about plant care is that plants require fertilizer for proper nutrition. Plants do need nutrients, but they don’t necessarily need fertilizer. Plants use their leaves to make food from water, sunlight, carbon dioxide and nutrients. Nutrients in the soil are necessary for structure, regulating metabolism, growth and reproduction. Some key nutrients for plants include nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron.

If a plant is appropriate for the soil and site where it is located, it may not require additional nutrients from fertilization. Fertilizers are generally used to achieve a specific goal: more of larger blooms, faster growth, greener leaves or more fruit. If one of these is your goal, you basically have three choices: using compost, applying packaged fertilizer or applying a specific mineral, such as iron.

Now is a good time to start a compost pile in your back yard. Fall means that many leaves will be falling onto the ground. Unfortunately, many residents will bag these leaves and put them for garbage collection. This renewable resource should be composted and returned to the soil.

A great way to improve your soil is by adding compost. This also recycles yard waste. When added to your soil, it can create the perfect medium for sustained plant health. The best management practice (BMP) of adding compost to your home landscape:

• Improves soil texture and structure, resulting in improved drainage and aeration

• Helps loosen compacted soils

• Promotes soil fertility and stimulates root development

• Creates a favorable environment for microorganism activity

BMP Checklist:

• Locate a site to compost in your yard

• Maintain a balance between leaves and grass clippings in your compost pile

• Monitor compost moisture levels

• Turn the compost pile as needed

Question of the week: What are the large, brown insects with flared rear legs that are on my Satsuma fruit?

Answer: These are leaf-footed plant bugs (Leptoglossus zonatus). These insects are economic pests of Satsuma oranges in Louisiana. These bugs transmit a yeast that causes staining, collapsing, and dry rot of the internal juice sacs. This hidden damage can make the fruit unpalatable. Their feeding also can cause external damage to the rind in the form of green spots that remain for a time after the rind has turned orange.

For more information on these or other horticultural topics, call me at 985-446-1316 or email me at, check out the LSU AgCenter website at or come by the office in Thibodaux located on 402 West 5th Street.