Leapfrog Landcare Uncategorized Why does my beautiful, green Fescue have white seed heads?

Why does my beautiful, green Fescue have white seed heads?

Lately, you may be noticing Poa Annua throughout your yard. Poa is a winter annual weed that grows in our area, the make is very similar to Fescue. In other climates it’s an actual grass, officially an annual Bluegrass. It begins to germinate in the fall and develops in the early spring, reading a  brighter green than Fescue and developing white flower-like seed heads. It also tends to grow lower and bushier than Fescue. In the late fall through mid spring, It can be hard to tell if you have Poa Annua, particularly in Fescue. It becomes much more noticeable in mid to late winter as it begins to form the white puffy seed head that stands out in your nice green Fescue lawn. 

This pesky weeds favorite place to grow is anywhere that Fescue is struggling to grow. This can be in areas with poor drainage, areas affected by brown patch, or areas along your driveway or sidewalk.

Keeping the lawn healthy and preventing stress is the key to battling Poa. This means properly and regularly maintaining the lawn at 4 inches, infrequent proper watering, lawn treatments to promote strong growth, brown patch treatments when disease pressure is high, and annual aeration and overseeding. We offer a compost topdressing that can be done with your aeration and overseeding that can help create a healthier and thicker lawn, therefore making it harder for Poa Annua to germinate. 

When it comes to weeds we receive frequent complaints and concerns about, Poa is at the top of the list and seems to grow more concerning each year. This weed has continued to grow in strength and become more of a problem as we’ve had several subsequent wet fall and winter conditions. This has caused the aeration and seeding of Fescue lawns to not be as successful as prior years Wet soil with bare areas, and little competition on seed trying to grow, is a perfect condition for Poa Annua to pop up. Even when conditions dry out making the Poa not as significant, the damage is done and the seeds are in the soil for years to come. 

NC State professor, Fred Yelverton, PhD, released an article in 2019 regarding Poa prevalence and how to address the weed. Luckily for all, Poa does die off as soon as temperatures reach 90 degrees. However, that can leave bare spots in your lawn, inviting other pesky weeds to come through and fill in.  

Up until this year, treatments to help Poa Annua in a Fescue lawn were sparse. In the Fall of 2021, we offered a trial treatment for the first time at Leapfrog Landcare for Poa Annua in Fescue lawns. While we were unable to guarantee results or if we’ll continue to perform the treatment long term, we do have hope that this product will help combat the weed! 

I hope this article helps you better understand the pesky weed fluffing up your lush, green Fescue. The more you know…

Author: Parker, General Manager

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