Effects of Heavy Rain on Your Lawn

This has been the wettest start to a year I can remember. Since we got the snow and ice in January, I don’t think we’ve been able to work but one full week. I’m hoping for better weather, and I know most of you are too. Monday and Tuesday this week were perfect. High’s in the 60’s and sunny. Looking at the forecast we have more of that on the way.

I know many of you are concerned about how all this rain will affect your lawn, and rightfully so. As of right now, it will not have much of a negative impact other than the fact that you can’t get out there and enjoy it.

Basically the way rain impacts your lawn (and more specifically your lawn treatments) is that it can wash out the pre-emergent. Weather like this is a good example of why we split our applications of pre-emerge. You see if we put all of the pre-emergent down at one time, all this rain would be washing it out and you wouldn’t get the longevity of the treatment. But since we put down roughly half of the pre-emerge needed, and we will get the second half down in the spring, you will still get a full season of control out of it. Now, if it continues to rain like this throughout the spring, then we might be in trouble. But hopefully, we are going to settle into a more consistent weather pattern and not have to worry about that.

Insects from Rain

You might be wondering about insects, and how the rain affects them too. It really depends on the type of insect we are talking about. If we are talking about mosquitoes, then all of this rain is giving them more places to breed. So you will probably have more mosquitoes earlier in the year than normal. Mosquitoes start to come out when the temperature reach 55 degrees Fahrenheit. We’ve been above that for quite some time, and our phones at Mosquito Joe have been busy with people wanting to get put on the list to spray.

All of this rain will also affect ants. Most ants typically live and build their nests in the soil, but when the ground becomes saturated, they have to look for somewhere else to live because they can’t get air to breath. We typically get a lot more calls about ant problems when it’s really wet, because they usually go inside people’s homes for refuge from all of the water. We’ve been using a fantastic product for ants and our perimeter pest control clients have been enjoying ant free homes even with all of the rain.

Pest Control

I think overall things will get more normal and we will be able to get back to spraying lawns and killing bugs soon. I’ll admit, it is frustrating not being able to work, but God’s ways are higher than our ways, and He knows what’s best for us. I have to keep reminding myself of that during times like these. If you are ready for your next lawn or pest treatment, just hang in there with us. We are working as hard as we can possibly work when the weather lets us.

Until next time, stay safe and dry.

Scalping Your Lawn

You may have already done this, and if so I applaud you. If not, it’s not too late. Scalping your lawn can make a big difference in how quickly your lawn greens up. It also helps remove thatch and create a healthier environment for your lawn.

How to do it?

If you’ve never done this before, it’s pretty simple.

  1. Start by lowering the deck of your lawn mower about 2 levels down from the last mowing height.
  2. Mow your lawn.
  3. After you’ve gone over it the first time, lower the deck another 2 levels.
  4. Mow your lawn again
  5. Repeat until you mow your lawn on the lowest setting.

A lot of people ask me whether they should bag the clippings or not. My answer is yes. When you are scalping your lawn, it is great if you can bag and remove those clippings. If you can’t, that’s okay too, but if you have the capability to remove those clippings, I would.

What is Thatch?

Thatch is the dead grass clippings that are sitting on top of the ground, but below the grass. In most cases the thatch will decompose and create a healthy layer of soil, but when it gets too thick it can make it hard for water, air and nutrients to reach the roots of the grass. When that happens you will see the grass start to decline in health or you may even see some brown patches in your lawn. I like to start each year out fresh by scalping the lawn and getting rid of as much thatch as possible. Once you’ve scalped your lawn, I wouldn’t recommend bagging the clippings any more as long as you aren’t letting your grass get too tall between mowings.

4 Rules To Cut Your Lawn Like a Golf Course

When we sign up a new customer, many times they tell me “I want you to make my lawn look like a golf course.” “I do too.” is my typical reply, “and while a solid fertilization and weed control program is essential, it is not the only thing that must be done for your lawn to look like a golf course.” Then I go on to explain all the different things that go into making a lawn look like a golf course.

Rule #1: If you want your lawn to look like a golf course, you have to be willing to mow it more often.

First is mowing height and frequency. Golf courses are typically mowed a lot lower than a lawn. The average height of a fairway is .75″. The average lawn mowing height is 2.5″ to 3″ which means that they have to mow a golf course much more often. This actually helps the grass. Cutting grass more often, makes the grass grow thicker, which helps to choke out weeds, and believe it or not, grass actually likes to be cut. So, it makes the turf healthier. Usually they mow the fairways every other day and the greens and tee boxes every day. I’m not saying you need to start mowing your lawn every other day, but I am saying that you need to cut it when it needs to be cut and not on a set schedule.

So, how do you know how often you should mow? Use the 1/3 rule. Never remove more than 1/3 of the plant when you cut it. When I’m mowing my lawn, I usually only like to take off about .5″ each time. That means I may mow once a week if it’s dry or cool, and sometimes I may have to cut it every three days if conditions are right. One thing I’ve started doing when my grass is growing really fast, is apply a low rate of growth regulator. This slows down the rate of growth so I don’t have to mow every three days, but I can stretch it out to 7 or 10 days if necessary. This is great if you are really busy or have a vacation planned.

Rule #2: If you want your lawn to look like a golf course, have it aerated at least once a year.

The second thing they do to golf courses that we don’t typically do to our lawns is aeration. Most of the time golf courses are aerated once a month. Again, circumstances are different for lawns than they are for golf courses. Golf courses are subjected to a lot more traffic than a lawn. People are constantly driving golf carts over them and they receive a lot of foot traffic too. Most lawns don’t need to be aerated monthly because they aren’t subject to a lot of traffic, but once a year is always beneficial to the grass.

Rule #3: If you want your lawn to look like a golf course, give it the water it needs.

The third difference between golf course maintenance and lawn maintenance is watering. Most golf courses have automatic sprinkler systems, but what you may not know is that the best superintendents don’t just have their sprinkler systems on a set timer. They adjust it constantly based on the weather. They aim for 1″ to 1.5″ of rainfall/irrigation per week and they modify accordingly. They also water deeply, not frequently. Most of them do their homework and they know how long it takes for the irrigation system to deliver 1″ of water. Then they break that down into 2 or 3 waterings per week on the fairways. Greens and tee boxes are a different story because that grass is kept so short. They have to water them daily for them to survive in the summer months.

Rule #4: If you want your lawn to look like golf course, adhere to regular weed control and fertilization program.

Golf courses also adhere to a regular schedule of applying pre-emergent herbicides as well as weed killers and fertilizer. The key behind pre-emergent herbicides is weed prevention. Of course there are no “magic bullets” that keep all weeds out for the entire growing season. So they have to use weed killers to control the weeds that come up. Mowing frequency and aeration also help with weed control. The thicker the grass is, the less likely they are to have weeds. The same is true for lawn maintenance.

A weed control and fertilization program will be different for golf courses than it is for lawns, but they are basically doing the same thing as our 8 treatment plan. The goal is to cultivate a healthy turf and prevent weeds from coming up, and when we do see weeds, control them as quickly as possible. Many superintendents experiment with different products and change their program as needed. I certainly believe in that as well. I use my lawn (and most of my family members) as a place to experiment with new products, then we determine if there was a visible difference and whether or not it warrants a change.