The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

Garden Tips

April 12, 2013

Ask A Master Gardener

TARBORO — Millie H. (Pinetops) Asks: I’ve attached a photo of a weed in my lawn that I’ve always called “pee grass.”  What should I do to control this weed in my lawn ?

Answer: It’s called Poa Annua, or Annual Bluegrass  -  an annual weed that looks similar to a regular lawn grass for a short while. It has shallow roots, and develops a short seed head early in the season. By the time summer heat hits, the weed goes dormant, leaving big brown areas in the lawn.

Poa annua is as common a lawn weed as they come. It looks a little like Kentucky bluegrass, except it has a lighter shade of green, shallower roots, and less drought resistance. It dies off when the weather gets hot, leaving big empty patches in your lawn. Keep it out by spreading a crabgrass preventer in late summer, before seeds can sprout in the fall.

The vast majority of the annual bluegrass is the true winter annual (Poa annua var. annua) that germinates in the fall, grows throughout the winter season, flowers profusely in the spring during March and April, and then dies as the summer temperatures rise. The hot weather stress is not conducive for Poa growth. However, the seed will remain in the soil all summer long and will germinate again early during the next fall.

Control Poa at the time of germination and prevent emergence by using a preemergence herbicide, or wait until after most of the Poa infestation is emerged and visible then use a postemergence herbicide.

Prevention

and Maintenance

•    Avoid Overwatering - Poa annua loves damp, shady areas. Fight the weed by watering deeply and infrequently. Its shallow roots can't reach down to where the moisture is.

•    Set Your Mower High - Poa annua is short. When you mow your grass at 3 inches, you make it hard for poa to survive. Lawns with taller grass have very few poa problems.

•    Use a Pre-Emergent in Late Summer - The poa seed heads that were dropped in the spring are waiting for fall to sprout. You can stop them by spreading a pre-emergent in August or early September. That will stop seeds from sprouting.

•    In Severe Cases, Start Over - If poa has taken over your yard, you may need a fresh start. Treat your lawn with Round Up® Weed and Grass Killer in the spring or fall. Then reseed with quality grass seed, such as Scotts® Tuf Builder® Grass Seed after 7 days.

•    Postemergence Control -The Poa is emerged and exists as a seedling or established plant. The size and age of the weed and the “background” turfgrass are important considerations when applying postemergence herbicides for a Poa control program. Check to see if your background turf is safe before any postemergent is applied.  As always, please read label instructions on all herbicides before application.  

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