Louisville Lawn Care Blog
Summertime has arrived and with it the onset of hot, summer days. It's time to put our lawn sprinklers and irrigation systems to work! This begs the questions.... When do I water? How much do I water? What if I don't water? Let's review the answers below:
When is the best time to water my lawn?
MORNING!! (Approximately 5-9 a.m.) Morning is the best time to water for maximum benefit. The soil will become nicely saturated with morning watering, but the turf blade will be allowed to dry more quickly, helping to prevent lawn disease. Watering in the evening is not recommended as it will keep the grass blade wet overnight, causing a major breeding ground for fungi.
How much water should I apply?
Water deeply and infrequently, with the goal of adding 1-inch of water to the lawn at each session. This should be done 2-3 times/week, more if we are in drought conditions. Water pressure and irrigation heads may alter water output, so set out a shallow bucket (or a tuna can works great for this!) while watering the first few times and allow an inch of water to collect. Note the time the sprinkler/irrigation was running in order to accumulate the inch of water and then you will know for a certainty how long to let your sprinklers/irrigation system run at each session.
What will happen if I decide not to water my lawn and my area is in a drought?
If we experience drought conditions and you choose not to irrigate, the turf will go dormant to protect the root system of the plant. The grass will green right back up with adequate water following a mild to moderate drought BUT if our area experiences an extended drought, some areas of the turf may be thinned or even completely die off if the lawn does not receive water (BEWARE of what happened in late summer of 2019!). If this occurs, plan to seed (and water!) in the fall.
Remeber, a few extra dollars spent on watering your lawn to keep it healthy in the summer is much more cost effective then trying to seed and a water a brand-new lawn in the fall!!
Following a lush and verdant spring green-up, late spring now brings with it certain undesirable conditions that directly affect our turf. For the most part, lawns in our area fall under the category of “cool-season” turf. This includes tall fescue, bluegrass and rye grass varieties. These turf grasses tend to thrive in spring and fall. However, once 80-90 degree temperatures arrive, along with higher humidity levels and the occasional late-evening thunderstorm, our lawns and plantings become susceptible to diseases.
Lawns specifically see such problems as:
- Red thread - this is the most prevalent fungus we are seeing now!
- Dollar spot
- Brown patch
- Necrotic ring spot
- Slime molds
- Fairy ring
To minimize disease outbreak, follow these guidelines:
- Mow at a 3”-4” cutting height
- Keep your blade sharp! A dull blade tears the grass and makes the plant more open to disease entry
- If you irrigate, water your lawn in the morning. Evening/nighttime watering keeps the leaf surface wet and more prone to the spread of disease during the active overnight hours.
- Consider a fungicide application. While the product can be costly and the control limited, it is an option and may be especially recommended for newer stands of turf that can suffer permanent damage from disease.
In most cases, the brown spots disease can cause are more of a visual nuisance that the lawn will grow out of as weather patterns change.
Many of our valuable landscape plantings have recently had major freeze damage. Our record warm temperatures this winter pushed the new growth of our trees and shrubs out early this year. We then had 2 extremely hard freezes back to back (more frost predicted ahead!), and this tender new growth has been affected. Here are some of the main trees and shrubs we are seeing with the freeze damage:
- Japanese Maples
- Smoke trees
- Ornamental grasses
- Crepe Myrtles
- Butterfly bushes
- Taxus yews
The damage that presents varies with the plant affected but you will see the tips of the leaves turning brown or black with severe curling of the leaves. Some leaves, like on the Japanese Maples, look completely shriveled up.
So, what can be done? Nothing yet. Though you may be tempted to prune the damaged areas, do not do this too quickly. Give the plant several months to recover. Only time will tell if the damage is reversible.