What does all this rain mean for your lawn?
If it’s true that April showers bring May flowers, is it possible for there be too much of a good thing? Clearly, the families and businesses impacted by flooding believe so, and so does your lawn.
The media is drawing comparisons between this year and the great flood of 1993, but in terms of local precipitation, this year reminds me more of 1995. The flooding of 1993 had a lot to do with the amount of precipitation our neighbors to our north experienced, but I recall locally heavier precipitation in the Spring of 1995 and very few sunny days.
This bit of history sticks out in my mind because I was a first-year manager of a lawn care department that year. Like this year, it was hard to get work done. Additionally, I recall with great clarity the problems that followed that summer. It stayed cloudy and wet until mid-June; then the heat and humidity took over and Brown Patch disease ran wild. The disease thinned out most lawns, creating limited competition for summer weeds. To make matters worse, the pounding rain broke down our pre-emergent. With limited competition from healthy turf and a broken down defense, Nutsedge, Crabgrass, and Spurge took over. Let’s just say the clients weren’t happy. At the time, turf experts from the University of Missouri and the University of Illinois wrote that it was the worst conditions for lawns in decades, and I don’t recall a year as bad since.
This Spring has an unsettlingly familiar feel to it – our lawns may be in for a tough summer. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Brown Patch disease most greatly affects Fescue, which is our predominant turf variety in this area. All Focal Pointe lawns over-seeded in the fall are over-seeded with a Fescue/Bluegrass blend which is helpful.
- Turf varieties keep getting better and better. Newer varieties of fescue are being genetically engineered to take on Bluegrass qualities without sacrificing the deep roots. Thinner grass blades, darker green color, and resistance to Brown Patch are some of the benefits.
- Overnight heat and humidity are what to watch for. If the low temperature and the relative humidity at night, when added together exceed 150, you will have Brown Patch. For example, a low temperature of 75 degrees with 80% humidity would give us a number of 155, which exceeds our magic number.
- When summer weather conditions arrive and irrigation is needed, be sure to water as close to dawn as possible. The less time grass blades stay wet the better.
- Mow as high as is reasonably possible. The taller the grass, the healthier the grass. Additionally, try to follow the 1/3 rule – ideally, each mowing should remove no more than 1/3 of the grass blade. That is virtually impossible when following a weekly mowing schedule and its Spring, but it’s very possible in the summer when grass slows down and disease pressure is at its highest.
- Brown Patch is a foliar disease that usually does not kill the plant itself. Therefore recovery in the Fall is likely.
- For lawns that must remain aesthetically perfect, fungicide applications should start before the disease is noticeable and must be applied every two weeks. This is an expensive option and not something we recommend if you have a tolerance for some discoloration.
Please be sure to reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or need additional information. If you’re a client, you know that we’re already thinking about summer issues and planning ahead. If you’re not a client, feel free to contact us if you need free advice about this or any other issue. We’re in the business of helping people enjoy their landscaping – client or not.