Sunday, September 4, 2011

When Mother Nature conspires against your lawn and garden

What a summer Cleveland has experienced. With cooler temperatures signaling that fall is around the corner, our yards and gardens have an opportunity to recover from the stresses of this past season.

April was the wettest April on record with more than twice the normal rain fall. May turned out to be the second wettest May on record. Cleveland normally receives approximately 6.87” of rain in April and May – but instead we had 14.63” – 212% over normal. With such wet weather the root systems in our lawns and garden plants could not become sturdy before summer heat. In April and May there were 37 days with rain, homeowners and landscape and lawn care companies alike struggled to keep up with normal yard and garden maintenance activities.

June didn’t really do us any favors. The wet spring resulted in weaker lawns – and then the soil dried up rapidly as we received less than normal rain fall for June. The soil in our gardens and lawns cannot store up the extra moisture, so the weaker root systems in our lawns struggled to provide enough water to suffering turf grass plants that began to wilt with the lack of moisture. Most homeowners were not watering their lawns because they were remembering how wet it was just weeks prior – and logically it would seem that watering was not necessary. Lawns became more stressed.

July was the last nail in the coffin for many lawns that were already weak and under performing. July was both the second warmest July on record, but it was also the fourth wettest on record with more than twice the normal rain fall (7.47” of rainfall versus normal of 3.52”). While common sense would tell us that moisture is good when it is abnormally hot – July actually suffered from ineffective rain falls. There were a total of nine days of precipitation – including a record setting 3.65” of rain on July 18th. When rain falls so rapidly it runs off the lawn and garden and does not get absorbed into the soil. Soil remained fairly dry below the surface despite the record rain falls. Top it off with nine days with temperatures above 90 degrees and lawns began to show real signs of stress. Crabgrass and broad leaf weeds filled in the voids where weaker lawns thinned out and lawn care companies struggled to keep up with weeds that were so prevalent. If it wasn’t raining it was too hot to spray weeds.

Lawns with poor root systems became stressed this summer
and will require renovation work to recover this fall.
 August was only slightly more moderate –but still remained relatively warm. Another record setting 3.51” of rain fell on August 14th, which is the normal rain fall for the month of August. When an entire month’s rain fall arrives in one day – there is little benefit for plants. Fortunately by the end of August temperatures cooled and moisture returned allowing for desirable lawn growing conditions.

What lessons can be learned from a year with such extreme weather? Focus lawn care efforts on building the root system of your lawn which requires focusing on soil health. Healthy lawns with strong root systems rebounded in late August. Lawns that became thin or weak experienced more weeds, have brown and dead patches and require seeding and renovation work this fall.

Click here to find out more about lawn renovations.


Hancey said...
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benton said...

Nice blog New Lawn .