Summer Lawn Issues
The past month has been wet in comparison to the dry spring this year. This has put extra stress on your lawn. Drought stressed lawns followed by high moisture is a recipe for pathogens including fungi. Water should only be applied as needed. Let the turf tell you when to water when it begins to slightly wilt. Irrigation system settings should be adjusted gradually over time to accommodate the lawn’s water needs. Be familiar with your irrigation times and be sure rain sensors are working. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ae221 “Residential Irrigation System Rainfall Shutoff Devices.”
Take into account site conditions and annually recurring issues in the same locations. Poorly drained areas may require less irrigation or in some instances none. Grass performs poorly in heavily shaded areas so consider alternatives such as shade tolerant groundcovers including Asiatic jasmine. For more information visit http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/ornamentals/groundcovers.html “Ground Covers.”
Another common issue is mowing grass too short also known as scalping. This can contribute to lawn stress and cause a patchy appearance. Mower blades should be sharpened so that they cut rather than tear the grass leaf blade. Lawns should also be mowed at the highest acceptable height for the type of grass. As a general rule don’t remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade at a time. For specific grass type mowing heights visit http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.edu/lawns-care/mowing-your-florida-lawn.html . “Mowing Your Florida Lawn.”
Also keep in mind when it comes to turf that a healthy lawn will be resistant to both disease and weeds. Weed and feed fertilizer products containing herbicide can cause damage to the lawn and landscape trees and shrubs. Weeds usually occur in the open patches in your lawn. Fill these patches with grass plug pieces of the same species of grass. Fertilize sparingly with slow release fertilizers only if needed. Much of the benefits of fertilizer can literally be washed away during the rainy season carried away in storm water which can contribute to surface and groundwater pollution.
For additional information pertaining to turfgrass disease management please visit http://edis.ufl.edu?1h040 “Turfgrass Disease Management.”
Sol Looker is the Residential Horticulture Extension Agent and Master Gardener Coordinator at the Flagler County Extension Service, University of Florida.