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Current Conditions Lawn Tips

Summer Damage: Why, What to do, and When.

This Summer's drought has given us some unpleasant surprises now that things have begun to recover.

Summer isn't over yet, but hopefully, we continue to get enough rain and the heat and humidity keep to a minimum.

Insect Damage #3
Insect damgage 4.jpg

Begining Points - Why?

1. Cool-season grasses (bluegrass, ryegrass, and fescue): Which is what we have in our area, are NOT intended to withstand prolonged high temps. When temps are in the mid 80s with minimal rain, the grass will go into dormancy and growth is halted. Once the temps get into the 90s for prolonged periods more than a day or so, that can kill off ryegrass, and badly damage bluegrass.

2. Insect Damage: In non-drought seasons, when there is ample moisture the lawn is able to withstand most of this activity and grow through any damage. However when we have prolonged drought conditions and the grass is in a dormant state, insects such as the chinch bug, cutworm, armyworm, billbug, and sod webworm are able to go undetected and the plant is unable to fight off the access stress, thus causing damaged areas.


3. Summer Disease Damage: Generally, summer diseases recover on their own and do not cause permanent damage. However this year the conditions were favorable for disease before and during our drought period. This prevented the turf from recovering before going into a distressed state, creating more severe damage than normal.

4. Other factors that can increase the severity of the damage.

Direct sunlight - having no shade, the grass and soil will be taking on a lot of extra heat with no relief. 

Lack of moisture - during drought periods with minimal rainfall and no watering, it's a roll of the dice on whether or not the grass will survive. Grass needs watered at least once per week, deeply, at the onset, and continued on through the Summer conditions.

Mowing height & frequency - Mowing high 3.5"-4" helps protect the lawn in several ways. It helps shade the soil and the crown of the plant, thus lowering the soil temp. Keeping mowing height taller also increases the depth of the roots, which will in turn help with the overall strength of the plant. Don't mow when the lawn is stressed or when it doesn't really need it, this will add even more stress to the plant.

Soil Condition - plays a big role in the durability of a lawn. Hard clay soils (which we have a lot of, especially in newer homes built in the last 20 years) make it more difficult for the grass plant to survive during a drought. It dries out faster and doesn't hold on to much of the moisture it gets. Soil compaction can also increase a lawn's vulnerability to many of the issues weve been facing in our area. Hard clay soils are more prone to compaction, regular liquid or core aeration will help with compaction and overall health of a lawn.

What to do now?

The first thing to do: If you have not already done so, is to lightly rake up the matted down dead grass. This will create better air, water, and fertilizer penetration to promote new growth. Do this lightly enough as to just get the loose dead grass and not pull up the stalk of the plant. 


Do you need to seed? It’s too early to say, some areas can still recover on their own in time. By early to mid-September we should have a better idea of what will need to be seeded. 


Which areas should you consider seeding this Fall? Smaller spots the size of a tennis ball or smaller will probably recover on their own from now through late next spring. Spots any larger have a good chance of needing some seeding, especially if they still have not progressed by early Fall.


How to seed dead areas: Once you have raked the dead matted grass off, you’ll need to loosen the soil with a hard rake or a garden weasel. Then put down your grass seed and lightly rake the seed into the soil. From there, just keep the seeded areas damp as much as possible for the next couple of weeks. You don’t want it muddy but it needs to be moist for the seed to germinate.


Core Aerating & Over-seeding: If you have damaged areas scattered throughout the lawn or just want to help thicken up the whole lawn addressing bad spots and damage areas, core aeration & over-seeding will go a long way in improving the turf going into Fall and next Spring.


Note: Please keep in mind when a lawn is stressed/weakened from drought conditions the first thing to fill in the voids are weeds and crabgrass. We are addressing them on every visit to help keep things under control.

Final Points

1. We need to continue to be patient with our lawns recover. Even though we did have a beautiful week of weather preceded by good rainfall. We still need Mother Nature's continued help with natural rainfall, cooler temps, and low humidity.

2. Some of our problem areas will still be able to recover on their own, in time. You may have some areas that need some extra help or re-seeding, but give the weather ample time before deciding on the needs. By early to mid-September you should have a good idea of what all will recover.

3. Watering - If you did not water during the drought and you want to help speed up any recovery, you can feel free to water as close to our recommendations as possible, or at least one good soaking per week, for an hour in each area.

4. On our future visits, we will be applying a recovery based fertilizer to help promote new growth and overall soil and turf health. As well as addressing any weed, crabgrass, or sedge that is present.

5. If you have any questions or would like us to stop by before your next visit, give us a call or send us an email.

Future Considerations

Preventative Fungicide Treatments:  We offer a 3-Step Fungicide program, they are applied during the prime disease months and give your lawn protection from all of the main diseases we encounter in our area. Preventative treatments are more beneficial than waiting until you have a disease as once you have a disease a fungicide will only help prevent any spreading, it will not help it recover any faster. 

Advanced Lawn Insect & Grub Treatment: This is a once a season application applied in late Spring - early Summer and protects your lawn from devastating insects (billbug, cutworm, armyworm, sod webworm, chinch bug, and grubs) throughout the season. You would not need the basic grub preventative treatment, this would replace that and protect your lawn from a much wider variety of damaging insects and grubs. The basic grub preventative only protects against the grub worm.

Over the past several years, our area has seen increased lawn insect activity, which oftentimes has led to unwanted turf damage. We felt there was a need to offer such treatment. With research and guidance from Purdue University and our local suppliers, we were able to lock on to a great product that offers great results. We have been very pleased with the results in our trials over the past several seasons and will be offering this treatment as an add on service for the 2021 season.

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