Keeping your lawn healthy following tropical storms (07-18-2005)
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Generally warm season turf species should be at their peak midsummer. However, with all the rain many lawns have experienced due to tropical storms and other moisture laden weather patterns, these lawns are trying to recover from weakened root systems, disease pressures, increased weed presence, and low fertility. Any stress relief you can provide will help your lawn recover and get it back in top shape.
Resume a regular schedule of mowing at the proper height for your turf species as soon as you can get back on the lawn. However, be cautious about creating soil compaction with heavy mowers on water-saturated soil. If your lawn has a compaction or an excess thatch problem midsummer is an ideal time to do core aerifying and dethatching to relieve these stress problems.
Allowing leaf clippings to fall back into the turf canopy is normally a wise choice since these clippings add nutrients back to the lawn, but if your lawn has grown excessively during a wet period and mowing will leave a layer of hay on the surface, then collecting the clippings will allow the turf to dry more quickly, allow more light to reach the turf canopy, and may prevent thatch buildup.
It is important to control any disease or weed pests that are limiting turf recovery and continue to scout for potential insect attacks. A midsummer fertilizer application will replenish any leached nutrients.
And lastly, even though we have had well beyond the normal one inch of water needed per week for a healthy lawn, it does not take long for this water to dissipate during the dog days of summer. Remember to avoid any drought stress by irrigating the lawn when needed.
Published July 18, 2005
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. firstname.lastname@example.org