We have all seen the brown lawns this year…. For those of us who take great pride in our lawns it is not a pretty site. The weather pattern this year is again challenging for growing and maintaining a healthy, weed and pest free lawn. Mother Nature is conspiring against us, between the excessive rain in June, to draught like conditions of July, to a record long and intense heat wave, to humidity consistently being as high (OR HIGHER) than it ever gets here, the weather is creating the perfect storm for our lawns to struggle. And struggle they are.
So, what do we do? The best answer for that is to first look at what we need to guard against. Fungus is prevalent due to the humidity. Crabgrass is prevalent due to both the rain in June and the draught/ heat of July. The grass is already stressed because it is a cool season crop growing in rainforest like conditions, so pests such as grubs are able to take off.
Many of these afflictions look like draught or heat stress. While it may be those issues, you must look closer and if you have a lawn service call them that is what they are there for. And remember, you see your lawn every day, they see it once a week or maybe once a month depending upon the level of service that you have. So you are an important part of the early detection which will help to avert a total collapse. If you do not have a lawn service contact the expert at your local garden store, they can help.
Unfortunately (AND THIS IS IMPORTANT) what you think of as heat or draught stress, can and often times is grub or fungus damage. Caught early and you can save it, BUT if you decide without looking further to add time to your irrigation, you can create a problem with fungus that is much like adding gas to a fire. The fungus feeds on water. SO if you have brown spots or areas of your lawn and you have increased the watering and the spots are growing. STOP the watering and figure out your problem ASAP. If it is grubs (or other surface insects) or fungus, they are treatable. The sooner the better.
The crabgrass, nut sedge and other broadleaf weeds are extreme this year. Even in turf grass areas where we have put down 2 rounds of pre-emergent control. The best advice here is to again let your lawn service know, but also realize that you are in great company. Some of the finest lawns that we see (whether we or a competitor have serviced them) have some level of weeds this year. Depending on the severity of the weed problem, most reputable lawn services will be able to knock them back. And for those of you who do this on your own there are controls you can buy.
There are cultural practices that can be done proactively to the lawns that will help, they include aeration, topdressing, adding microbial nutrients etc. These can cost more than conventional lawn care and on their own are not going to produce a perfect weed free lawn. But they will make the soils and environment more healthy which in turn will make the turf (and all living landscape) more healthy which will make them less susceptible to pests and disease.
I hope this helps.