Asked July 28, 2018, 3:21 PM EDT

I'm on the Eastern shore of md. I purchased my home 4 years ago and have been fighting wiregrass ever since. The past 3 seasons I overseeded with tall fescue. In the spring it looks beautiful. Slowly the fescue dries out and the wiregrass takes over. Is there a better grass I should be overseeded with? I don't have an irrigation system so I'm looking for something drought tollerent. Thanks.

Worcester County Maryland

3 Responses

The best time to seed is fall. As early as you can, so that the seedlings have 3 seasons of moisture before they face a hot dry Maryland summer. Spring sowing usually burns up.

If you have sandy soil, get as much organic matter into the soil as you can. Its large particles act like sponges and hold water—especially important in sand which water quickly runs through.

Let grass clippings lie. You can also top dress with dry organic matter each year.

Wiregrass—or Bermudagrass—is extremely tough. The usual recommendation is to kill the entire lawn and reseed in the fall. This is called a renovation. The time to start is now, because often two herbicide applications may be required to kill it completely. Here is our page for successful lawn renovation: http://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_docs/programs/hgic/HGIC_Pubs/lawn_pubs/HG102...

Tall fescue is the best choice for a full sun lawn, but it cannot out-compete wiregrass. Zoysiagrass is very thick and may be able to out-compete it.


You mentioned using an organic material to help hold water. Could this be peat moss? Also what do you think of mixing in micro clover seed?

We wouldn't recommend peat moss for the addition of organic matter. Compost would be a better choice and it only can be incorporated into the soil during a lawn renovation. We also do not recommend the micro clover seed. It goes dormant during drought and would not outcompete aggressive wiregrass. You hadn't mentioned the size of your lawn and, depending on how much of an area you have/want to maintain, you have a couple choices you can consider.

1. Spot treat the wiregrass using a herbicide Fenoxaprop and then overseed with tall fescue. https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/bermudagrass

2. Renovate the lawn completely (incorporating compost into the soil) and reseed with tall fescue. https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/lawns/lawn-renovation

3. Renovate the lawn to establish zoysiagrass. This is a warm season grass and the best time to establish it is in the spring (May-June). It will be dormant from October to May.

Maryland is in a transition zone when it comes to cool-season (tall fescue) vs. warm season (zoysia) grasses, so both have their pros and cons. There is also the option to just leave the wiregrass if the area is too large to maintain constantly. These are a few options you can consider.