Posts Tagged ‘brown grass’

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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A look back at the 2012 lawn care season.

There is little disputing the 2012 growing season was a record breaker in more than one area.  Extreme heat and corresponding drought caused widespread damage to even well cared for lawns.  The effect of these weather phenomena then led to massive explosions of pests like grubs and chinch bugs.  Even with November fast approaching, the pest issues will spill over into the spring of 2013, and if left untreated, will continue to cause turf damage.  There is little that can be done for physical lawn repairs at this point in the growing season like bringing in new loam or trying to establish a lawn through seeding.  However, beneficial turf treatments applied now like potassium, lime, compost tea, sea kelp, and slow release fertilizer can help both a damaged and healthy lawn.  Lawn repairs ranging from small to full renovations should be explored now or at least during the winter months as landscapers and lawn care companies will be overwhelmed this spring by sheer volume of repairs necessary never mind pest treatments.  Timing could not be more critical in terms of seeding and treating for damaging turf and ornamental pests than the spring of 2013.  Even if the weather pattern returns to a more “normal” or stable pattern, the repercussions of this season’s heat and drought will continue into 2013.  Although brown grass in October can be a result of past drought and exposure to dry weather, it can also spell bug troubles in the surrounding lawn as grubs vigorously eat fast growing root systems.

Don't wait until the spring to make your lawn plans

I am seeing grubs in record setting numbers and on lawns which have never had a past issue.  While a curative treatment is only a short term fix, a preventative treatment in 2013 may well be in order for more lawns than previously expected.  I do not normally endorse the use of materials to preventatively protect against grubs, which in a normal year are rarely a huge issue unless past history indicates a problem.  However, I will be firmly endorsing both curative and preventative grub control on a case-by-case basis for 2013 because of the high risk factors recently experienced in New England.  Furthermore, another mild winter would further enhance tick populations in 2013 in addition to hundreds of other outdoor pests.  Make a note on your calendar to explore the potential health issues this winter and make plans, if deemed appropriate after speaking to professionals in the industry, such as Chippers.

On the bright side, the recent rain and cooler weather in combination with fall lawn treatments are helping damaged and weak lawns recover to the maximum degree possible before winter.  Don’t dismiss potassium, compost tea, and aeration after the harsh growing season we experienced this past year.  All of these treatments can be done well into November in most of New England so long as the ground does not freeze.

White grubs are eating your lawn without you knowing it!

In closing, don’t forget the millions of crabgrass seeds which were deposited in record numbers along driveways, patios, and walkways because of drought or insect damaged lawns.  Although a thick, healthy lawn is your best defense against crabgrass, some areas will not be up to the task without additional help of a preventative crabgrass barrier in the spring of 2013.  Timing will be key and a lot of good can be done in an eight week period next spring, so don’t file your lawn contract when it arrives this winter, review it carefully and setup a proactive plan to both protect and perhaps restore your home lawn for the investment it truly is!

 

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Your brown lawn may have more than a color problem

High heat and lack of rainfall has NH & VT lawns turning brown

 

The summer of 2012 is shaping up to be one of record heat, sun, warmth, and drought in many areas across the USA.  While this is fabulous vacation weather for the beach and outdoor activities, your lawn may have gone brown months ago depending upon your location.  In New England, we are experiencing dry weather not felt since the 1950’s.  I don’t imagine Elvis would be pleased to have a brown lawn upon his return home from touring.

At any rate, severe lack of moisture can create other problems beside the straw colored grass you see below your feet.  Extended dry periods cause the soil temperature to dramatically rise, which in turn causes crabgrass and other noxious annual weeds to germinate in earnest.  While your cool weather-loving turf is asleep trying to just survive, weeds can pop up and seemingly grow inches a day.  This is especially true of crabgrass, even with a preventative treatment applied in the spring since the product’s life span only lasts into late July or early August in NH or VT.  Super heated soil creates an ideal growing environment for crabgrass, even in the best cared for lawns.  A light touch is the best course of action until September arrives and restoration efforts can begin.

A more serious side to drought is the fact it attracts all kinds of heat- loving insects like Japanese beetles, chinch bugs and sod webworm to name just a few.  Damage can be occurring right under your feet without a hint of the battle raging in the soil or on the hot brown surface of your beloved lawn.  Left unchecked, fall rainfall comes and your lawn never recovers, which might be attributed to small grubs feeding from late summer right into fall.

Even those grassy areas lucky enough to have irrigation or some shade are not immune to the heat and humidity.  I have seen plenty of brown patch disease rising up overnight due to humidity and wet grass, with the resulting damage visible the next morning.  Mowing grass already in drought conditions or during the heat of the day is like pushing a friend over a cliff with the flu, just plain mean.  The best advice in a hot summer with a significant lack of rainfall is to stay off the lawn if possible, watch and treat for insects as necessary based upon population levels, and irrigate if possible in the morning – even if only for a short period of time.  Even a little water is better than nothing when it comes to keeping the dormant growing point of your grass alive.  Like an IV in a sick patient in the hospital, any moisture applied is better than none in an absence of rainfall.

Any fertilizer used should be at a low rate, slow release, and generally granular in nature.  With autumn only a month away, we are at the top of the roller coaster and things should slowly begin to improve as August fades into September.  If your lawn has taken a hit like many have, plan now to have restoration services lined up in order to take advantage of the best growing time of year for grass – fall!  Services like core aeration, overseeding, lime, compost tea, and organic or natural fertilizers can bring a lawn back to life in preparation for 2013.

Enjoy the heat now because your lawn sure hates it, at least in New England.

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