We had optimism in our hearts as we welcomed the 2013 lawn care season. However, we were once again subjected to widespread drought conditions. To make matters worse, the dry conditions followed yet another winter with below normal precipitation. It's these "double whammy" scenarios that have sapped the available sub-soil moisture. In addition to the effect this has on trees, it accelerates dryness in topsoil. Without the insulating reserve that moist sub-soils offer any available topsoil moisture quickly evaporates, upward and downward.
The weather conditions in the early season favored growth and many lawns quickly recovered. There were some exceptions such as areas of extremely poor soil, hard southern embankments and areas plagued by microclimates. Microclimates most noticeable are those lawns southeast to west of structures that act as giant reflective ovens in the summer sun. Also problematic are areas surrounded by any concrete; streets, drives, walks and patios.
Optimistic or not, we all had a feeling that the summer would once again be dry. Our fertilizers were ordered with this foremost in mind. Turf grass requires 3 simple things, sunlight, water and nutrients. Our job is to adjust our methods considering the availability of those key elements. There are few things we can control so our process is to use the best fertilizers we can develop. We utilize 3 different wholesalers and work with the manufacturing side as well. Water being the other variant, many have irrigation systems but few are set up correctly. Please, call us if you have any questions about watering. If you're looking for a contractor, DDM Irrigation does a great job.
Another thing so routine, it's often done without a second thought. Mowing is a variable that can be easily controlled but is often discounted as a chore that must be done. The most problematic lawns are those falling into one of two categories, "mow too little" and "mow too much". The former has problems because the lawn is allowed to get too tall and when cut, too much of the leaf surface is removed. Even under the best climate conditions this causes undo stress and root loss. Not understanding that a change in climate should allow the maintenance to change, the latter group causes damage from mowing unnecessarily. Compaction, accelerated stress from heat, tracking and other damage can be caused by mowing too often. If the turf is not in good vigor it can't repair itself. It's like death by 1,000 cuts, pardon the pun.
When turf is under drought stress or to prevent it, cut the grass when it's cool and keep it tall. Mowing when it’s hot can cause scorch injury. Scorched turf remains visible for some time even after watering. When the leaf is brown it is dead, scorch will be visible until the effected area is filled with new growth that emerges from the root system. These tips and many more are described in our website and we are always available to discuss any questions you may have. Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2014!