Finally, we have received some rainfall!!! Still not quite enough, however, it did help. This is the third year in a row that we have experienced extreme conditions. As most of you all know, the entire country has been in record drought conditions. When this happens all plant life gets stressed. The best thing you can do for your lawn is to keep it watered during these periods. Many of you know that it’s not practical to water acres of turfgrass properly. Those of you who have the larger properties and no means of irrigation should know that you can experience turf loss during these periods of drought.
We always receive many phone calls asking why my lawn looks so bad this time of the season. Our first question always is naturally “have you watered?”. The next step in diagnosing the issue is to visit the property and inspect the grass. This time of the season especially this year fungus is usually a big factor in why lawns are looking so bad. This is, of course, beyond the normal drought conditions. Although, there are many factors involved in why your lawn has looked so bad and perhaps your neighbors may not look as bad. You have to take into consideration the species of grasses, varieties, consistent mowing height, irrigation, soil type, weather conditions and more. It’s not easy to show up and say “this is the problem”. Acting on partial information is all we have to go on. Some conditions are obvious while others are vague and confusing. If your lawn is sandy soil it will never retain good moisture levels. If your lawn is more clay and richer with organic matter, it will fair much better in these conditions. Is there fungus lurking around? Was it brought in from a commercial mowing outfit? Was the lawn properly watered? Was the lawn improperly watered? Are the mower blades sharp? How tall is the grass? Was the grass mowed during high heat? If the lawn, was watered what time of day was it consistently done? These questions and many more are what goes through our minds when we are trying to diagnose your issues. Even the University Professors have the exact same issue we do. We are the professionals but even the Pros have difficulties, especially when it comes to dealing with our beloved Mother Nature! The safest thing to assume is all the problems everyone is experiencing is due to the dry weather we have been experiencing and the safest solution to the problem is water!
Now that normal weather has returned and we are just waiting on the next rainfall to bring some more relief. Accessing the damage that was caused is the primary focus. If you are thinking of stopping your fertilization, DONT! Now would be the worst time to quit. Your lawn needs the nutrients to rebuild itself and if you take that away you’re making it worse off.
With all the rain we had this spring and all of the HOT DRY & HUMID weather we just went through, the fungus has been a large problem. The major funguses that we have seen this year are Red Thread in the spring and Leaf Blight and Brown Patch in the past several weeks. We have actually diagnosed many more but these are the primary ones. This is all due to the weather conditions. It’s been dry and typically fungus has a hard time when it is extremely dry. The difference this year is that we have had very high humidity. This combination is the knockout blow to grasses. The best defense for your lawn during those times is to keep it properly hydrated. Water in the mornings for about 45min in each spot every other day. If you can’t do it every other day at least try to do it once a week on the weekends when you have time. If that is the case give it more than 45min. Your goal is to saturate the soil deeply where the roots are trying to find water. If you water lightly for about 15min you are losing a lot of it to evaporation and you don’t get it down where it’s needed. You are probably contributing to more fungus growth if you do that. The good news is if you can water, you really only should have to do it for a month or so to keep your lawn looking good and as healthy as it can be.
SO… Keep your chin up! We are now in mid-70-degree weather with dramatically less humidity. This is now prime growing conditions for our turf! We have two growing seasons in cool-season grasses. Spring (short) and Fall (much longer). If you are considering overseeding this year, now is the time to start planning for it. We are entering the 2nd growth season for our area. We may still yet get some more heat but we are on the historic downswing of the high heat of the season. Planning on seeding, now is the best time. You’ll get a longer growing season before winter and after the 2nd mowing after it’s germinated you’ll be able to drive it more with fertilizer.
Here are some historic weather data for this year to have a look at. As you can see temperatures reach their peak around the middle of July and start falling around now. All we need is some moisture and we can begin the repair process.