As September arrives, what practices should we be doing for our lawns? The answer is easy for people with warm season grass lawns of Bermuda, buffalo grass and zoysia. Pretty much nothing needs to be done. Do not fertilize, aerate, overseed or plant grass. Spot control of broadleaf weeds is about all that is needed. The best products for spot weed control contain three herbicides, 2-4D, dicamba and MCP.

However, September is a very important month for cool season lawns (tall fescue dominates in Garden City). Likely the most important month of all for a well cared fescue lawn! Cool season grasses are entering their fall-growth cycle as days shorten and temperatures moderate (at least we sure hope they start moderating). Here are some of the things that people with cool season lawns should consider in September.

September is the most important time to fertilize cool season grasses. Apply 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. This is the ideal time to plant new lawns and overseed thin and damaged spots in established lawns. Aerating and dethaching are practices that can greatly help cool season lawns.

Tall fescue lawns that have become thin over the summer can be thickened up by overseeding during September. Start by mowing the grass short (1-1.5 inches) and remove the clippings to achieve good seed to soil contact and increase the amount of light that will reach the young seedlings. Good seed-soil contact is vital if overseeding is to be successful. Excess thatch can prevent seed from reaching the soil and germinating. Normally we want 1/4" of thatch or less when overseeding. If the thatch layer is 3/4" or more, it is usually easiest to use a sod cutter to remove it. A power rake can be used to reduce a thatch layer that is less than 3/4" but more than a quarter inch.

Once thatch is under control, the soil should be prepared for the seed. This can be done in various ways using power tools like an aerator or hand tools like a rake. When planting a new fescue lawn, use 6-8 pounds of seed per 1000 square feet. When overseeding, use half that rate, 3-4 pounds per 1000 square feet. Water well and then keep the seedbed constantly moist to insure rapid germination. Frequent, light waterings will give way to deeper and more infrequent irrigation as the seedlings become established.

More information about important fall lawn care will be covered on Thursday, September 19, 7:00 p.m. at "Landscape Strategies: Fall Plans for Spring Potential" at the Grandstands Meeting Room on the Fairgrounds in Garden City. Please pre register for the meeting by contacting the Finney Extension office.

If you have any questions on lawn care or other concerns, contact Finney County Extension Agent David Coltrain at 272-3670 or email

Knowledge at Noon

Knowledge at Noon begins Sept. 5. The Finney County Kansas State Research and Extension Office encourages you to mark your calendar for these informative public meetings each month from 12:05 to 12:55 p.m. at the Finney County Public Library, 605 E. Walnut St., unless otherwise posted.

* Sept. 5: "The Great Dames of the Plains." Old houses of Garden City, with Johnetta Hebrlee from the Finney County Historical Society speaking.

* Oct. 3: "Tastes of Venezuela." Presented by Lehisa de Fornoza, Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Agent.

Other dates through the year include Dec. 5 and in the new year Jan. 9, Feb. 6, March 6 and April 13.

For more information about the Knowledge at Noon, contact de Fornoza at 272-3670.

4-H exhibits At the Kansas State Fair

Finney County 4-H members will exhibit and have their project entries judged at the Kansas State Fair, September 6-15. Most of the 4-H exhibits will be judged September 6-8.

Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of the 4-H youth who will be exhibiting and/or visiting this year's Kansas State Fair. Results will be available online at"

4-H spurs Hispanic youth to seek college education

For more than three decades, folks in this southwest Kansas community have come to expect a regular influx of immigrants who come to work in the area's plentiful meat packing and related agricultural industries.

But parents who participated in a pilot 4-H program targeted to Hispanic families in southwest Kansas see their own children's future much differently.

"We talk to our kids a lot about going to college," said Flor Rodriquez of Lakin and mother of two. "I want them to learn how to speak in front of people and be leaders in the community; learn how to be with other people."

Or, Gladis Castro, a mother of three from Cimarron: "4-H has helped me get more involved with my children. It has helped me learn that just because we're immigrants (to the United States), that doesn't mean that we can't go to college."

Adds Antonio Perez, a grandfather of five in Garden City: "My oldest grandson, he wants to go to college. For these kids, there's no choice for them. We used to believe if you don't want to study, then you go to work. Not anymore. For a (Hispanic) kid, you don't have a choice, you have to go to school."

Debra Bolton, a K-State Research and Extension specialist in southwest Kansas, has studied ethnic populations for more than 20 years

"A lot of the families come from areas where education just wasn't a possibility," she said. "So first of all, we have to help them understand that education is for everybody, including you. That raises the bar for them, and they are rising up to meet it."

Bertha Mendoza, who manages the Expanded Food, Nutrition and Education Program (EFNEP) for K-State Research and Extension's southwest area office, was a key figure in recruiting Hispanic families from EFNEP to the summer's 4-H program.

"I've been working with this population for four years," Mendoza said. "We noticed the interest in participating in (4-H), but some of the families had misconceptions. They thought it would be very difficult due to the language barrier, and the lack of knowledge (about the program). They thought they had to have certain skills to participate in the program, and there were only certain skills that they can do.

"So basically, it was lack of information in order for us to help them understand what 4-H was all about."

That changed when K-State Research and Extension hired two bilingual summer interns to carry out a plan forged primarily by Bolton and Mendoza. The interns, both seniors at Kansas State University, routinely talked with parents about what it will take to one day send their kids to college.

"4-H with the Hispanic population is not going to look like traditional 4-H. In this program, the whole family is involved," Bolton said. "You might do a little bit more beyond the children in youth development; you might do family development, where parents want to work on high school diplomas. You have to work on a lot of different areas besides youth development. That's where we stray a little bit from the usual 4-H model."

Still, a common thread is leadership and self-improvement. Fourteen-year-old Miguel Soltero sees himself going to college to study computer engineering. Twelve-year-old Leslie Romero wants to be a lawyer. Eleven-year-old Daniel Castro wants to pursue his interest in cooking.

"A lot of these children are very creative, and they really need someone to motivate them," Bolton said. "We hope to provide that opportunity."