Environmental stresses taking a toll on lawns
Over the past few weeks I have had numerous calls, emails and made several troubleshooting visits to lawns that have never made a healthy spring transition from winter dormancy. The underlying factor with most all of these lawns is the domino effect of several environmental stresses. As you recall, last fall was not very productive in rainfall amounts, so many lawns suffered going into dormancy from drought stress and the inability to store needed carbohydrate reserves for transition this spring.
The early warm weather of March created an early spring green-up that was later set back from a late killing frost. This was followed by a second attempt for green-up that had to rely on what little carbohydrate reserves remained in the roots. The roots too have been struggling through a regeneration process right through the middle of another severe drought.
Once these physical stresses weaken the turf it then becomes susceptible to additional stresses of diseases, insects and/or weeds. Centipede and St. Augustine lawns have been hit the hardest particularly with large patch, anthracnose, and take-all diseases. Chinch bugs are already attacking St. Augustine lawns and bermudagrass or zoysia mites have been detecting in these turf species respectively.
For many severely damaged lawns renovation may be the only solution to recovery, but for others relieving as many of these stresses as possible will help them. Proper watering, mowing, fertilizing and pest control will be critical throughout the summer to get these weakened lawns back to a healthy condition.
For more information on the care of your lawn you can obtain a copy of extension publication #1322 “Establish and Manage Your Home Lawn” from your local Extension office.
Published May 14, 2007
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