I’ve said it time and time again, 2015 has been a really tough year on New England lawns. As the New Year rolled in with bone-chilling cold and tons of snow, our winter certainly continued through February. A wintery March came and went while snow banks lingered well into April in many towns. The next punch landed in May with hot, dry weather – crushing normal turf recovery after a brutal winter of cold and long-lasting ice and snow. With a shortage of rain in May, many lawns saw permanent damage and a backward swing from the fall of 2014.
June was the “best” lawn month with some rain and a somewhat normal temperatures only to have the oven turned to broil as July/August lingered in hot and humid weather for weeks upon weeks. Our cool season grasses simply never had the opportunity to recover never mind prepare for a dry, hot, humid summer. But there is more!
Trying to control broadleaf weeds without good soil moisture and reasonable air temperatures meant many were left to linger and grow. In a normal lawn season, these weeds would have thinned out. If that were not enough, the heat flamed the fan of crabgrass growth which took off like a rocket. Any crabgrass barrier failed prematurely with the hot, arid soil simply baking in the summer heat. Thin or bare patches of lawn soon became a sea of limey green crabgrass as the invasion progressed from late July into August.
Seriously, this was a hard year for many lawns. But there is still hope. Fall has arrived with rain, wonderful rain, and cooler temperatures. Perhaps all is not lost. There is hope for recovery; there is hope for repair. But what should be done? Fix damaged lawns with loam and seeding. Aerate and overseed thinned lawns or those needing extra help from the beating they received only weeks ago. A modest amount of fertilizer can bulk up your lawn and get things back on track. Prepare now for next spring, for we know not how the winter will treat our grassy friends. There is much to be done in the next two months, don’t let this vital time slip through your fingers. Not this fall.