NC State Extension Publications

Introduction

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These suggested management practices will help you care for your lawn throughout the year. Location, terrain, soil type and condition, age of the lawn, previous lawn care, and other factors affect turf performance, so adjust these management practices and dates to suit your particular lawn.

March Through May

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Mowing
Mow the lawn to 2 inches when it turns green in the spring. Do not let it grow taller than 212 inches. Use a rotary mower to remove any seed heads. NEVER burn carpetgrass to remove excessive debris.

Fertilization
DO NOT apply nitrogen now. Have the soil tested every two to three years to determine nutrient and lime requirements. Contact your local North Carolina Cooperative Extension center for details.

Watering
Actively growing carpetgrass requires about 1 inch of water each week, either from rainfall or supplemental irrigation. Sandy soils often require more frequent watering (12 inch of water every third day) if rainfall is insufficient. Proper irrigation helps prevent or reduce problems later in the summer.

Insect Control
White grubs may be active at this time, but spring curative applications are not effective. Make note of areas with white grub activity and plan to apply a preventive application in the following spring or early summer. Specific timing will vary depending on white grub species, so plan to make an application when adult flight is at its peak. For more information, see the NC State Extension publication White Grubs in Turf.

Weed Control
Unless your Extension agent suggests otherwise, do not broadcast herbicide. Carpetgrass is sensitive to most herbicides, and most herbicides are not labeled for use on carpetgrass. Manage weeds by hand pulling and mowing.

Renovation
Replant bare areas no earlier than April 15 (or when average daytime temperatures are continually above 60°F). Use 2 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet or 112 bushels of sprigs per 1,000 square feet. (One square yard of turf pulled apart is equivalent to one bushel of sprigs.) It’s easier to spread seed if you mix it with fine sand. Rake seeds into the soil or cover the seeds lightly with light soil. Keep the seedbed continually moist, but not soggy, with several light waterings daily for several weeks. Seeds should germinate in 7 to 10 days. Continue to water regularly for several weeks to keep seedlings from dying.

Thatch Removal
Thatch (layer of undecomposed grass) is usually not a problem unless you overfertilize or overwater. If thatch is thicker than 12 inch, power rake (vertical mow) lightly several weeks after spring green-up. Space blades 2 to 3 inches apart and 14 inch deep in one direction. Do not use a vertical mower with a 1-inch blade spacing or you will severely damage your lawn.

June Through August

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Mowing
Mow grass to 2 inches with a rotary mower every 10 to 14 days or before grass grows taller than 2½ inches.

Fertilization
Fertilize with 12 pound of nitrogen (N) per 1,000 square feet in mid-June. A second application in mid-August may enhance your lawn if you live along the coast.

You need to apply 12 pound of N per 1,000 square feet, so how much fertilizer do you need to buy? Divide 50 by the FIRST number on the fertilizer bag. (The first number always represents N content.) For example, if you’ve got a 5-5-15 fertilizer, divide 50 by 5 and you get 10. That means you need to buy 10 pounds of fertilizer for every 1,000 square feet of lawn.

Watering
Follow guidelines for March through May.

Weed Control
Follow guidelines for March through May.

Insect Control
Follow guidelines for March through May.

Disease Control
Watch for large patch disease, which shows up as circular patches of brown grass up to several feet in diameter. This disease rarely causes lasting damage for carpetgrass. Fungicides are available for large patch control, but must be applied on a preventative basis. For more information on large patch, see Large Patch in Turf.

September Through November

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Mowing
Mow grass before it grows taller than 2½ inches until lawn turns brown (onset of dormancy).

Fertilization
Follow guidelines for March through May.

Insect Control
Curative applications applied in early fall may control some white grubs, but efficacy will vary depending on the size of grub. Later instars (larger grubs) are harder to treat than early instars. Identify and make note of problem areas for preventive applications in late spring to early summer.

Watering
Continue to water as needed to avoid wilt until your lawn becomes dormant. Although a dormant lawn generally requires no supplemental water, make sure the soil doesn’t get powder-dry.

Disease Control
Follow guidelines for June through August.

December Through February

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Mowing
Mow to remove leaves and other debris. NEVER burn off carpetgrass to remove excessive debris.

Watering
Irrigation is rarely needed. Water occasionally during extended dry spells to prevent desiccation of crown tissue.

Weed Control
Follow guidelines for March through May.

More About Carpetgrass

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Carpetgrass is a low-growing, medium-green, coarsely textured turfgrass. It is a low-maintenance, general-purpose turf.

Carpetgrass looks like St. Augustinegrass except that it produces a crabgrass-like seed head that some people don’t like. Carpetgrass blends well with centipedegrass. Lawns that contain both grasses should be maintained using recommendations for centipedegrass (see Centipedegrass Lawn Maintenance Calendar).

Carpetgrass requires only 1 pound of N per 1,000 square feet per year. Carpetgrass is suitable for full sun to moderate shade, but it grows best in full sun and when daytime temperatures are between 60 and 90°F. It performs well in wet, shady, acid soils where other grasses may not grow. It does not tolerate cold, drought, salt, or wear. It may be necessary to water every third or fourth day in dry, well-drained soils.

Carpetgrass is most susceptible to large patch disease. Weed problems are rare because carpetgrass grows vigorously and covers well. Carpetgrass is sensitive to many herbicides, and most herbicides are not labeled for carpetgrass. Contact your local North Carolina Cooperative Extension center if you have questions about pesticides.

Authors

Professor & Extension Turfgrass Specialist
Crop & Soil Sciences
Professor and Extension Specialist (Turfgrass Pathology)
Entomology & Plant Pathology
Extension Associate
Entomology & Plant Pathology
Extension Specialist (Turfgrass Weed Management)
Crop & Soil Sciences
Professor and Extension Turfgrass Specialist
Crop & Soil Sciences
Professor and Extension Turfgrass Pathology Specialist
Entomology & Plant Pathology
Extension Associate - Turfgrass
Crop & Soil Sciences

Find more information at the following NC State Extension websites:

Publication date: Aug. 5, 2021
AG-541

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