Posts Tagged ‘summer weeds’

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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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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July & August can bring out the worst in a home lawn

Classic mid summer crabgrass outbreak

Midsummer weather can put even a great looking lawn into a slow dive of despair without careful attention.  As the heat kicks into high gear, soil temperatures reach their smoking point and crabgrass seeds begin germinating in earnest, popping like corn in a microwave.  Limey green crabgrass plants appear virtually overnight exposing vulnerable areas along driveways, patios, walkways, mailboxes among others.  Where did they come from?  How can they grow so fast?  Ah, the games have just begun!

If you have not watered and your lawn is cut short, now is when your thin lawn becomes choked out with crabgrass plants the size of small cars.  During hot, humid weather, cool season grasses will stop growing, sitting idle while crabgrass seemingly grows an inch an hour, basking in the searing July heat.  A weak or thin lawn, or those lacking a pre-emergent crabgrass barrier, are now at high risk for a crabgrass invasion that will only cease when school reopens.  While post-emergent sprays do exist, spraying at this stage is like using a garden hose on a house fire: it’s best just to let nature take its course.  Measures should be taken in the fall such as aeration, overseeding, lime, and turf thickening fertilizers to help prepare the lawn for the following spring.  A healthy lawn resists this invasion, and although areas may see some crabgrass, it will not be to the point where one could harvest the greenery for salads.

Damaged lawn

A casual glance toward the interior of your lawn may reveal disturbing patches and blotches of varying sizes and colors ranging from brown to white.  How can this be?  What went wrong?  Like a good CSI episode, it is time for the facts to speak and rule out the guessing.  These issues generally fall under environmental stress such as heat, sun scald, or some other non-pathogenic source.  Ruling out diseases can be very tricky depending upon the weather, timing, and location of injury.  This summer has seen a significant upswing in disease-related damage ranging from pits and scars, to unusual patches.  Preventative measures can be taken to help clean up your lawn with either traditional or organic treatments.  Insects are perhaps the easiest to detect given their predicable nature and timing during the season.  Now is a perfect time to treat for grubs, sod webworm, and chinch bugs using either organic or traditional materials.

Doing some simple things properly for your lawn during the next 6 weeks can reduce unsettling issues arising from disease, insects, and environmental stress.  Summer is generally not the best time to spray for difficult to control broadleaf weeds like ground ivy and violets since high heat and low soil moisture content reduce product effectiveness.    If you think you have an invasion at your house, get it checked out and maybe there is a solution to either stop the problem or slow the damage.  Don’t let your lawn scare the neighborhood children – plan ahead and keep it clean and green!

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