Promoter interesting things. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century—at least not in the way we know it today—that what seemed from afar as something mundane and standardized could take on many different forms.
Viewed from a distance – literally and figuratively – many people know a lawn as the flat green area over which one pushes the mower once a week between tee and half time. Of course, for some, the lawn is a form of religion with multiple commandments that, if strictly followed, give the earth the emerald color of milk and honey.
For others, the lawn is more of an expression of the botanical bacchanalia that lurks only on this side of the mess. for each one of them.
No matter your preferred lawn style, we all have a vision in our heads of how we can expect our lawn to look by midsummer. And so it’s unsettling when you walk into the driveway one afternoon and notice that something doesn’t seem right. You may not be able to recognize it right away but something is definitely not what it should be.
So here are some midsummer lawn problems to look out for and how to deal with them.
What are the most common cannabis diseases and how can you treat them?
Yellow spots, sudden death of isolated patches of lawn… There is a long list of potential pathogens that can infect summer lawns.
The good news is that most of them can be managed by changing cultural practices–water deeply, not too often, raise the mowing height (4 inches is my favorite mark), get rid of thatch (that layer of dead, dead grass cuddling that hugs the ground) and don’t over-fertilize, especially with nitrogen.
Here’s a good pro tip – turn that mower over and clean out all the accumulated debris. The cleaner the underside of the mower deck, the more effective it will be for a clean cut—which results in less potential for disease problems.
If you suspect a disease and are considering chemotherapy, it is best to have a medical professional make a diagnosis. Your county’s Cooperative Extension office is a great place to start and, depending on the pathogen and/or extent of influence, can recommend cultural or chemical control.
How can you rid your lawn of broadleaf weeds?
If you’re one of those people who like to have the perfect lawn, barefoot, it can be unsettling when you go for an evening stroll on the lawn and find yourself stepping on a mishmash of plantains and grasses. Most pre-emergent herbicides have a maximum of about 90 days of control, so even if you do something spring, you might find some of those broadleaf weeds coming back indoors.
The easiest solution to a midsummer broadleaf infestation is not to reach for a spray bottle, but to set the mower higher. Mowing as low as 4 inches can shift the competitive advantage in your lawn’s direction and allow it to overtake broadleaf weeds without having to resort to chemical sprays.
And don’t worry about a little clover in the garden. Certainly, this is not weed. It is a broadleaf plant. But they are kept short, stay green, and can actually help provide a little nitrogen to the soil.
What is a yellow hazelnut? How do you kill her?
I get a lot of phone calls and emails this time of year from people worried about “something yellowish-green, grass-like” that seems to be infesting my lawn. The usual culprit is the yellow nut (Cyperus esculentus).
This monster invader seems to grow twice as fast as lawn grass, resulting in shaggy grass a few days after being mowed. Unfortunately, it is difficult to control.
Yellow walnut is a plant that loves moist soil. So if it appears in your garden, the best course of action is to learn how to reduce water buildup in that area. This could mean rerouting the gutter downspout, placing downspout lines under the roof to move water away from the area, or even recirculating some of it. Unfortunately, not all of these things are easy to achieve. Selective herbicides are available, but I have found this approach to have limited success.
There aren’t a lot of good options with this one, to be honest.
How to deal with thinning grass in shaded areas
Some places are just hard to grow high quality grass. Trying to grow the perfect lawn under the thick shade of trees with aggressive roots—maples, for example—can be maddening. Heavy shade reduces turf plant vigor, and aggressive roots make it difficult to maintain adequate moisture in the soil.
One solution to these tricky shade spots is to have the tree thin the shade tree canopy to let in more sunlight and give the lawn a fighting chance. Of course, the other option is to simply remove the grass (or what’s left of it) from that spot and plant a shade-loving ground cover such as Pachisandra (Pachysandra Terminalis) or original gingerbread (Canadian ducks).
How do you get rid of white bands in your garden?
Most lawns show patterns left by both the mower wheels and the different directions the mower cuts. The pattern appears as alternating bands of dark green and light green. But when those light green parts start to look white, you have a problem.
White bands in the grass are caused by a dull mower blade. The sharp blade cuts cleanly through grass while the dull blade rips, leaving a jagged edge that fades quickly after mowing. This leaves the lawn with a white mold.
Fortunately, this is a quick fix. Simply give the blade a quick sharpening (or have someone do it for you if that’s more your style) and you’ll be back in business in no time. Not sure if you need to sharpen the blade? Here’s a simple rule. If you don’t remember the last time your blade was sharpened, it’s too long ago!
Paul Capello is Executive Director at Yew Dell Botanical Gardens, 6220 Old Lagrange Road, yewdellgardens.org.