There is so much to look forward to each Autumn. The spectacular show the trees put on for us here in the New England region, the perfectly sunny and cool days, and of course the harvests of fruits and veggies are just a few of the things to anticipate annually. Unfortunately, there are also some not so wonderful things to be aware of in your lawn every fall – lawn diseases. Learn to recognize, prevent and to know when professionals need to treat lawn damage and diseases.Here are just a few of the diseases you should be on the look out for this fall.
- Brown Patch – Circular area of dead grass. The circle may be small or large. The outer portion may be a “smoky” color. The leaves can be easily pulled from the stem. Affected areas may have a sunken appearance.
- Dollar Spot – Small (silver dollar-sized) spots of tan/brown grass appear over the lawn. The spots may merge into large affected areas. Grass blades will have tan/brown areas on them.
- Fairy Ring – Dark green circle or semicircle of grass. Area next to it may be a lighter-colored area of dying grass. Mushrooms may or may not be present.
- Leaf Spot – There are leaf spot infections that attack warm- and cool-season grasses. Grass begins to appear gray, tan or brown. Upon closer examination, tan, red or purple spots are evident. Can severely thin or kill turfgrass.
- Powdery Mildew – Common in shady areas, the infection resembles white dust. Blades eventually turn tan to brown. The damage can be permanent.
- Red Thread – Red or faded patches, reddish or pink threads reach from leaf tips to adjoining leaves.
- Rust – Distinctive orange rust-like appearance. The spores will attach easily to tools and clothing.
Now that the weather has cooled and the leaves are just beginning to change color and put on a beautiful display, you may be thinking that your outside chores are done. No. No. No. That could not be further from the truth. Your lawn and garden need care during this transitional time heading into the harsh cold and precipitation that is sure to assault us this winter. Fall is the ideal time to make preparations for next spring’s promise of a lush and healthy lawn. Here are some steps that all homeowners should take to care for their lawn this Autumn.
- Mowing Techniques – If you are still mowing after this summer’s record drought for our region, be sure to drop the mower’s blade to its lowest setting for the last two cuttings of the year. That will allow more sunlight to reach the crown of the grass, and there will be less leaf to turn brown during the winter.
- Watering Techniques – Continue watering your grass as allowed by any watering restrictions by your local or regional water companies.
- Raking and Cleaning Up – Be sure to rake all leaves and remove all debris from your lawn including decorative pieces in the gardens. Leave that are left to collect morning dew will become a mat that will block out the sun – thus smothering the grass below it. So when the leaves are falling, blow or rake them away as often as you can. Even after the trees are bare, continue raking out the corners where the wind piles leaves up. If you don’t, come spring the grass under that soggy, decaying mat will be dead.
- Soil loosening and Aeration – Does your lawn soil look compacted from a summer of patio parties and children running around? You may need to consider aerating and seeding certain areas before the winter sets in.
- Irrigation Systems – If you have any sort of irrigation system you will want to have it drained properly and possibly cleaned professionally, if you aren’t quite sure how to do it yourself. Check for all sprinkler heads to be sure that there was no damage done to them over the summer months.
- Pest Patrol – Do an inspection of your landscaping and garden areas for pests and disease that may need to be treated before the next planting and growing season.
We all learned in grade school that for things to grow they need food, water and sunshine for photosynthesis to occur. What they probably didn’t teach you in school was the amount and way that plants and grasses should be watered! Our Lawn Care professionals want you to understand the best practices when it comes to watering your lawn. So here is our back-to-the-basics Lawn Watering 101 tips and suggestions for you to follow.
- How often your lawn needs a drink depends on a host of factors, including things like soil type, sunlight, grass type and regional climate.
- The majority of lawns need around one inch of water each week. Put out containers or rain gauges to collect water to ensure your lawn in getting enough. You’ll find gauges at most lawn and garden centers.
- Water deeply instead of frequently. The best times to water are between 6-10 AM. There’s less wind, less hot sun, and your lawn has a full day to dry. Watering mid-day and the water will evaporate too quickly. Water in the evening and it may invite mildew.
- Allow dormancy if needed. In times of great stress and drought it may be best to allow your lawn to turn brown and go dormant. Grass will bounce back when rainfall and cooler temperatures return in the fall, especially if it was well fed in the spring.
- Research your soil type. If you notice puddling each time you water your soil may have a high clay content. Take a soil test to learn what kind of soil is hosting your grass, and adjust irrigation cycles accordingly.
- Avoid common mistake including: running automatic sprinklers right after or before a rainfall is predicted, watering the street and walkways by mistake, or watering when the sun is blazing and the wind is briskly blowing.
As humans we are under daily stress like work, traffic, bills, family and the list could go on and on. These stressors can wear on people and make us tired, even possibly ill in the long run. But did you know that there are stressors that do the same damage to our grass and landscaping? The causes may be different but the end result of looking tired and becoming ill are the same. So what are those stressors on our lawn and how can homeowners avoid them in order to keep their property looking well kept and healthy?
- Lawn Diseases – One of the biggest stressors on our lawns are the pests that do damage. Some of the insects that do this damage particularly in the summer and early fall include: white grubs, chinch bugs, sod webworms, and armyworms. Other insects eat grass blades, which causes lawn patches to appear as if they have been mowed too closely. Check with Pro-Tech Lawn Care to learn which pests plague which grass types in your area, the best methods for insect control, and how to deal with an insect infestation.
- Drought – Stress from lack of rainfall can make your grass wilt, fade and even die. With the lack of rainfall in our region as of late, it is no wonder all lawns are suffering from this stressor in some way. Last week’s blog discussed several ways to help your lawn in this case. Please scroll back to read more.
- Lawn Care Mistakes – To err is human. So, many homeowners make lawn care mistakes like: over watering, overcutting, parking a car on the lawn, or fertilizing at the wrong time. All of these behaviors can put undue stress on a lawn. Lawn that is stressed is more prone to disease and insect infestation.
- High Traffic and Pets – Lawn burn can occur if pets with a high concentration of nitrogen regularly go to the bathroom in the same location. Round dead spots of grass can appear all over the lawn. High traffic where children and visitors walk regularly can become compacted and may need aeration and reseeding.
For more information about the stress that your lawn may be under call Pro-Tech Lawn Care.
As of late, walking around your property might feel more like taking a stroll around the Sahara or Mojave Deserts. The crunch, crunch, crunch of your grass may sound more like dead leaves than what should be a soft, lush, green lawn. Your bushes may be drooping and your flowers may seem less than beautiful. Your garden may look like a wasteland, or your produce less than ripe. Thirsty grass loses its luster as it gradually changes color from the bright, almost shiny green you are accustomed to seeing, to a dull blue-green or grey-green tint. As conditions worsen, it continues to fade to a tan or wheat color. New England is currently inches behind in its rainfall totals for the year and facing a terrible drought. With local and regional water restrictions how can homeowners help their lawns?
- Watering – All lawns benefit from receiving about an inch of water each week. In the absence of rain, irrigate your lawn only once or twice a week so that a total of one inch is applied during this period. How do you know when you have applied an inch? Set out tuna cans in various places on the lawn where the irrigation water lands. Once the can is full, that area has received an inch of water. Many areas are only allowing hand watering in place of irrigation or sprinkler systems so, be sure to check with your local water departments before starting on a watering program.
- Mowing – Many people have told us that due to the lack of rainfall they have not had to mow their grass much, if, at all. If you are still mowing, allow your lawn to grow taller as drought approaches.Taller blades develop a greater, deeper root system. In addition, when you cut the lawn, allow the grass clippings to remain on the lawn. Most mowers today cut the grass blades into such small pieces, they are practically invisible. The benefit to grasscycling is that the clippings return valuable nutrients and moisture to the lawn, not only making your lawn healthier year round, but especially during periods of stress.
- Know your Nutrients – Normally during typical rain seasons adding nutrients to your lawn is advisable. However, it is not advisable to feed your lawn outside of its active growing season and especially during periods of drought.