Reflection on the previous season is definitely bittersweet. Although the season was close to normal, if there is such a thing in Iowa, we had our fair share of problems to deal with. The rapid change in climate was the biggest single contributing factor. What seems to be a trending pattern is the sharp contrast in temperature during all seasons. These high highs and low lows are obviously hard on every living plant especially turfgrass. The temperature transition alone will result in noticeable stress however; when this coincides with a change in available moisture the damage can be severe and widespread.
This is the scenario best describes last season. We had the typical wet and mild spring that was great for repairing winter damage in the lawns. Unfortunately, it quickly turned hot and dry. Previously having (too much) water available, root systems were underdeveloped and extremely shallow. Oppressive temperatures combined with undeveloped root systems caused lawns to show stress before summer began.
After a brief slow down and even some areas of dormancy, the lawns started to revive. As root systems finally pushed downward in search of moisture, the plants began to gain the strength necessary to for survival through summer. The added strength is almost too late as the earlier stress has caused weeds to flourish in the absence of vigorously growing turf.
As the turf starts to rebound and we try to stay ahead of the flourishing weeds, another management nightmare. Almost three weeks without rain! A problem in itself made worse with the addition of excessive temperatures. Without irrigation, these conditions were destructive to all areas of turf on a sloped southern exposure and radiant heat maximized damage to lawns on the south side of structures. Many areas required overseeding to repair the damage.
Turfgrass is susceptible to any number of problems, most being out of our control. Some cultivars of grass are engineered to be more resilient than others. Among these variables one thing is true, better soil is key to a better lawn. A major problem is that the material composing almost all lawns for the past 20 years is not what anyone would consider soil. Clay and sand are most common. Neither of which contain the important organic material required to promote strong turfgrass. In addition to core aeration and fertilizer, many lawns will need to be topdressed with organic material. This is a service that I am proud to offer as a way to correct the underlying problems. If you have interest in topdressing your lawn or have any questions, please contact us through the contact link at www.tompkinslawncare.com.