Posts Tagged ‘brown grass’

Water your dry spring lawn

While Vermont and New Hampshire are not suffering through a long-term drought like California, we are certainly experiencing a very dry spring. This lack of rain can cause serious lawn damage.

A dry spring slows recovery from winter cold, ice, and snow.

A dry spring slows recovery from winter cold, ice, and snow.

Lawns do not have enough moisture to break winter dormancy and recover from the cold, ice and snow. I am seeing significant damage and widespread patchy browning from the long cold winter, lingering snow banks and snow mold. However, in some cases the dry soil and lack of rainfall has actually hastened spring greening and recovery.

Even sod is having a hard time greening up with a lack of rain this spring.

Even sod is having a hard time greening up with a lack of rain this spring.

 

My message has been the same to everyone over the past few weeks:
1. There is nothing you could have done to prevent this.
2. Water for 30 min a day starting immediately until we get rainfall.
3. Hold off or skip dethatching until your lawn is actively growing.
4. Your lawn may need future repairs.
5. Hope it rains soon.

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Summer lawn tips

Dramatic weather fluctuations in temperature and humidity cause real problems to your summer lawn. Daily temperatures in the upper 80’s or low 90’s directly contribute to our cool-season grasses shutting down to protect themselves resulting in brown or tan patches in your lawn. High heat also contributes to fast drying of the soil which speeds up the browning in a normally green lawn.

 

Grub control being applied to a large lawn

 

Lawns really prefer temperatures in the 70’s, so grass browning is a normal part of summer. Even with adequate soil moisture, high heat slows lawn growth and the typical lush lawn you had in the spring fades to lighter shades of green. July and August can be brutal on lawns, especially if you are mowing too short and have not been diligent in preparing your lawn in the spring and even the previous fall for summer weather.
Thin lawns or those predisposed to quick drying, perhaps with a higher sand content or southern exposure means the soil will become very hot, leading to crabgrass germination and annual weeds like spotted spurge, oxalis, black medic, and purslane. These heat-loving weeds will pop up in a short time, barely noticeable until they begin filling in thin or bare areas within weeks. Spurge is particularly aggressive and will literally grow up and over your lawn like crabgrass. Crabgrass thrives in hot and dry weather, seemingly growing inches overnight under ideal summer conditions. What can be done?

 

 

Spurge is a fast growing summer annual weed.

Spurge is a fast growing summer annual weed.

 

 

Preventative measures are the best course of action starting off the year with a spring pre-emergent, broadleaf weed control, and high mowing, and mulched clippings to recycle valuable nutrients. However for severe weed infestations or those with a low tolerance for such invaders, summer spraying can provide some relief. There are several products available which will specifically target the crabgrass and annual weeds during July and August. A few treatments can do a nice job restoring a civilized lawn which may have become overrun by crabgrass along the driveway, walkway, or patio sections.
Areas prone to high heat such as along roads, thin areas, and pavers are particularly vulnerable to weed invasion even with a spring treatment of inhibitor simply due to the weak turf foundation and the harsh conditions of summer. Any pre-emergent product applied can only stand up so long in thin or bare areas of a lawn which is why a thick, healthy lawn is the best defense. High heat is not the only down side to summer lawn blues; high humidity can spell double trouble as diseases like summer and brown patch can really take hold and do damage in short order.
In the case of brown patch, too much water when combined with high heat can set your lawn up for damage and thinning virtually overnight. Watering in the morning is your best friend and a little less water is better than too much when it comes to irrigation systems. I’ve seen a lot of lawns killed with kindness as irrigation systems drown the grass, and although the color is better and there is less dry brown, damage from summers diseases can cause more significant turf loss.

 

 

For a free mowing magnet, just e-mail or call anytime.

For a free mowing magnet, just e-mail or call anytime.

 

 

On the flip side, short mowing and not enough irrigation promotes summer patch, especially in sod or bluegrass lawns. Summer patch damage becomes evident as pitting, scars, and crescent-shaped lesions due to heat, humidity, and turf under stress like drought. Short mowing further compounds the problem which means even more stress placed on your lawn resulting in permanent damage. Seeding with a disease-resistant rye grass into the patches in the fall will help ease the visual trauma.
Think of the summer as a time to get your lawn through a bad cold or flu and fall as the cure. The goal is to prevent as much damage as possible from weeds, insects, drought, and disease. Sometimes a light touch is better than spraying materials which further stunt and stress out an ecosystem already under duress. Each lawn is unique, but many underlying principles remain the same in respect to irrigation, mowing, and lawn treatments.  As always, the best offense is a good defense in the spring and fall. When in doubt, seek professional advice; what you chose to do or not do this summer really can impact your lawn.

 

In any case, take a vacation, this is great beach weather!

 

 

Enjoy your summer vacation but be sure to follow basic lawn tips.

Enjoy your summer vacation but be sure to follow basic lawn tips.

 

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Dry spring weather delays lawn greening

 

Have you noticed most lawns are just not greening up the way they normally do?  The lack of rainfall and continued dry weather has significantly reduced spring green-up and recovery from winter.  With minimal soil moisture, dormant grass is unable to push out new leaves made up primarily of water.  The resulting drought has stalled the normal lush growth expected in late April or early May.  Dead grass leaves from last year remain brown or white at or near the ground level.  This visually looks bad, with some minor new leaves but a brown or white tint below.  Lots of folks are asking if they should rake up what they perceive as dead thatch.  I say “no” because tearing up dead plant material will do more harm than good to a lawn not yet fully growing or recovered.

Dry spring lawns won't green up

Dry spring lawns won’t green up

I am seeing lawns all over NH and VT “simmering”, not really green, not really dormant – a time typically reserved for dark green lush growth.  Any rainfall or irrigation can help push out new growth and get things going; after all summer is just around the corner and high heat usually spells trouble for New England grasses.  A spring dry period can reduce any lawn’s ability to recover after a normal winter possibly followed by snow mold or ice damage.  Some nice soaking showers or a few days of rain can help turn our brown lawns around and get the grass green and growing strong. 

Anyone with irrigation should most certainly be using it by now and those who can water with a sprinkler and hose should consider doing so to help revive lawn areas which are just not doing well.  Sunny areas may be dry, but so may areas with lots of tree roots.  Remember your lawn’s hot spots and those areas which tend to brown first given the heat of summer.  Target those sections first because they will most certainly be under stress, perhaps more than other lawn areas.

If rain does not arrive in the next week or so, I would strongly advise anyone who has a lawn care company to irrigate where possible to push new growth and help dissolve any granular/liquid products remaining on the surface of the lawn and move into down into the soil. 

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