Turf Talk – A Turf Newsletter

Turf Talk …. From Bill & Brandon                                                               fall edition – 2017

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Hi’s response to Lois makes us think that they live in the Piedmont.

We are all too familiar with this frustration. Every year in early to mid-spring, our excitement rises as we see our lawns turn lush, thick, and deep green.  Then the reality sets in by late July or August as it begins to look sparse, patchy, and filled with brown spots. While this can happen to any of our yards, it’s especially true with those without irrigation systems or with freshly sown yards.

As a landscape company, we wanted to examine this issue a little more closely. And what we found proves that the cartoon is correct! In March of 2017, LLA created three test plots at our office.

  • In the 1st one we installed a fescue sod with a well-established root system
  • The 2nd area was sowed with a blend of three fescue types.
  • In the 3rd area we planted Zoysia sod.

We watered the 3 plots regularly and all beds received the same treatments during the year. From mid-spring through mid-July, all 3 beds looks great – lush, healthy and deep green. But then the lingering effects of summer’s heat and humidity started to take its toll. And by now, late August, the proof is in the pictures.

When the heat of July and August hit us, the sod was able to establish a root system strong enough to get through the stress of high heat and humidity. Unfortunately, the plot sowed with fescue seeds was suffering by late summer. It simply had not been able to establish a deep rooting system to help sustain it. We’ll comment on the Zoysia below.

As you know, “Turf Grass” is a 4-year degree at most state universities. It may not be rocket science, but it is tricky.  We have learned a lot about it ourselves in our long careers dealing with turf grass and Mother Nature. Some key thoughts:

  1. In the Piedmont region of NC, we primarily use blended fescue – a cool season That means it does well in the cool seasons of fall, winter, and spring but it loses its vitality in the heat and humidity of summer.
  2. When fescue grass seeds are sowed in the fall, it has 3 seasons to (fall, winter, and spring) to become established – greatly improving its chances for survival. When it’s sowed in the spring, it’s much more difficult to get the root system established before going through the rigors of summer; some of it will survive certainly, but not all – even with an irrigation system. Installing sod definitely helps, but its costs are not for everyone.
  3. You cannot grow grass under trees that have top feeding root systems. These suck up too much of the available water – which is even less available in the summer. Examples are Maples, River Birch, Dogwoods, Beech trees
  4. As trees grow and expand their canopies, the root system expands – you’ll need to also expand the mowing ring.
  5. Shade is great for your home, but not for your turf. While there are decent seed blends that will handle partial shade, no grass does well in deep shade. If you see lots of moss, don’t think you’re going to get grass to grow.
  6. Air circulation is critical to the health of turf. That is why you see fans on golf courses to move air to prevent fungus from attacking turf greens.

That brings us to the 3rd test plot, planted with Zoysia sod. Zoysia, Bermuda and others are considered warm season grasses and are well adapted to hot humid weather.  However, since everything has a “catch” the big drawback of warm season grasses is that they turn brown soon after the first hard frost in the fall and remain that way until early spring.

As our long-term temperatures continue to rise and our seasons become less pronounced, we may have to alter the turf we have here in the Piedmont and use more of the “warm season grasses.”

Please call upon us to discuss the turf issues and options for your property. We want to help your grass thrive.

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Summer Turf Pests and Diseases

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Be on the Watch For Summer Pests and Diseases

Earlier this week we sent out an e-mail regarding some of the bigger turf threats for the summer. We wanted to replicate that information below as we feel it plays a crucial role in keeping lawns healthy through the toughest part of the summer. If you would like to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, click here.

Nutsedge can be one of the most troublesome weeds found in lawns and other plant beds. Unlike most weeds, it is not controlled with application of traditional grass or broadleaf herbicides and an outbreak of nutsedge can appear at any time and any place, including landscaped areas with woody ornamentals and perennials.

The active ingredient in the herbicide used to control nutsedge is absorbed into the leaf tissue within 24 to 48 hours and is translocated through the vascular system, interrupting amino acid production within the plant. It is recommended that the plant not be pulled out of the ground as the “nutlets,” or underground rhizomes, will be disturbed and can germinate into new plants.

A surfacant is required for maximum absorption and should be sprayed before outside temperatures reach 90 degrees, and is rainfast in four hours.

In cases of heavy infestation, it is recommended that a pre-emergent herbicide be applied. Spot treatment is preferred as opposed to blanket coverage.

Brown Patch is a fungal problem for our cool season grasses such as fescue and perennial rye, and it is the most damaging of all turf grass diseases.

It begins with late and lush spring growth and the arrival of heat and humidity, and is most active when temperatures reach 80-85 degrees and night air stays above 70 degrees.

Not only is this fungal disease airborne, it can also be spread by mowers, foot traffic, and animals. Late day rains and irrigation not having ample time to dry out only add to the spread of this disease.

If possible, increase light and air penetration or movement by pruning over-hanging tree limbs and shrubs. Mowing frequently may also help limit the spread of this disease.

Due to the high cost of herbicides used to treat these two common problems, most traditional lawn care programs do not include the treatment. Only after discovery and identification should treatment begin and continue until under control.

Also, if you see June bugs and Japanese beetles, watch out for grubs! These beetles lay their eggs in turf areas and the larval stage of the lifecycle causes severe damage to turf as they eat the roots of the grass. This insect should be treated as soon as possible after discovery.

If you have any questions about these turf issues or if you are seeing symptoms and would like to begin a treatment program, please give us a call at 336-765-6340.

Photo Credit: From our Pinterest board “Backyard Inspiration

Larmore Managers Featured in the Winston-Salem Journal

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Today’s edition of the Winston-Salem Journal included an article about the Rooftop Garden at Brenner Children’s Hospital, featuring our managers Andy Jones and Ben Butner. LLA originally designed and installed the garden and Jones and Butner have been planing, planting, and maintaining the annual containers for several years. The article summarizes the history of the garden and how it has impacted those who use it. Check out the full article and photo credit here.

 

May Brings More Records

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We know it’s been hot! What we may not realize is just how hot it’s actually been this season. According to a post from weatherunderground.com, May brought sweeps of high temperatures to many parts of the Middle East in Europe, in some cases breaking heat records and even tying with the highest reliably recorded temperature on the planet. This May was the third warmest May on record, overall. It has also been reported that the first six months of this year are the second warmest first half of the year since record keeping began in 1880. These six months have been .16 degrees warmer than the 20th century average. 2016 still holds the record of having the hottest six months by less than a degree and this year is on track to be the second-warmest year on record, behind 2016.

As far as major weather events, 2017 is falling within range of what is normal for this point in the year. For the remainder of 2017, it is predicted that we will have a more active hurricane season than average, with 3 major storms predicted. June is living up to this prediction, with Arlene already making landfall and storms Bret and Cindy are expected to be named this week.

What about Winston-Salem? Fortunately, current storm activity is in the Gulf and the Caribbean,so we don’t have much to be concerned with going in to the weekend. However, higher risks during hurricane season means there’s always the possibility we’ll see some damage. So far, we are above average for rainfall in June and have already surpassed average rainfall for the entire month. Temperatures have been above average, but that will likely taper off in the next ten days. As for May, rainfall was nearly triple the average for the month. Temperatures were consistently above average, but not nearly as record-setting as what was seen in Europe and the Middle East. The remainder of the season is still up in the air (no pun intended), but we’ll keep an eye out for future climate milestones!

Sources:

https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/historic-heat-wave-sweeps-asia-middle-east-and-europe

https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/may-2017-top-three-warm-may-globally

Photo Credit: From our Pinterest board “Sunflowers”

Do April Showers Bring May Flowers?

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We’ve all heard the expression “April showers bring May flowers,” but most probably aren’t familiar with the origin of the phrase and also question how valid the statement is. After all, we already have plenty of flowers in April between dogwoods, cherries, azaleas and the like.

It turns out that this popular idiom can be traced back to the 1300’s when a version of the phrase was published in Middle English. After that, various sources are found in England and Ireland where “April showers bring May showers” is pretty truthful. In these climates April does often bring periods of heavier rain and the phrase was probably used to give residents something to hope for during the cloudy, wet weather. However, this may not be the case in Winston-Salem where we have a higher amount of average rainfall in May. In April we typically receive 3.7″ and May we receive 3.86″ disproving the phrase we use so commonly. This month we have already received 2.09″ of rain.

It is also interesting to note that most flowering plants are more affected by warm temperatures when it comes to blooming time than rainfall. This spring is a prime example, as we saw plenty of trees flowering prematurely and daffodils sprang to the surface earlier than ever. Research shows that first flowering dates correlate with warm temperatures and the sooner temperatures rise, the earlier plants bloom. As was the case this year, having warm temperatures early can be detrimental to flowering plants, especially for crops such as apples, peaches, and cherries. If plants begin flowering prior to our last hard frost it will result in cold damage to foliage, flowers, and developing fruits. While it’s fairly reliable to say that if our average spring temperatures continue to warm we should see earlier and earlier flowering, it is unclear what the long-term results will be or if certain plants that require a chilling period will stop flowering altogether.

Sources:

http://www.usclimatedata.com/climate/winston-salem/north-carolina/united-states/usnc1469

https://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/do-april-showers-bring-may-flowers/

http://feelingsandflowers.com/136/april-showers-bring-may-flowers-%E2%80%93-discussing-the-rhyme/

2016: Climate in Review

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Since we have been posting updates about significant weather events and the climate throughout the year, we thought January would be the perfect time to recap and see how 2016 turned out, locally and globally. Though on a global scale this was a third straight year of record heat, for the U.S. 2016 was not a record topper. Still, 2016 was the second hottest year on record (which spans 122 years), was the 20th consecutive year of above average temperatures, and Alaska and nighttime temperatures were notably high. According to NOAA, last year’s average temperature was .07 degrees higher than last year, while according to NASA there was a .22 degree difference. Scientists are blaming 2016’s warming trend both on man-made global warming and on El Nino.

This year also brought the 4th consecutive wetter than normal year in the U.S., according to NOAA. This is coupled with widespread drought, meaning we are seeing more rain in shorter periods of time resulting in damaging flooding events. Last year brought forth many destructive weather events including flooding, wildfires, drought, tornadoes, hail storms, and Hurricane Matthew.

An intriguing study reports that with a projection of moderate climate change, Earth will see a loss in mild weather, on average 10 fewer days by the turn of the century. This varies by region, with some areas actually seeing an increase in mild weather. Overall, this could still result in less enjoyable weather and agricultural damage from an increase in disease and insect pests.

What’s in store for 2017? The Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a warmer and wetter start to the year, followed by a cooler and drier spring. The almanac also predicts that the summer will begin cool and wet, but by September we should warm up with lower precipitation than average.

Sources:

http://www.journalnow.com/
http://www.almanac.com/weather/longrange/region/us/4

Photo Credit: From our Pinterest board “Sunflowers”

Be Prepared for Summer Storms

RainDespite the dreary rain and this week’s temperatures that are well below average, it has been reported by an article on wral.com that the planet as a whole has broken the monthly heat record for a 12th month in a row. The article attributes this in part to global warming and to El Nino, a oscillating weather pattern that can affect weather globally. The last month that did not have record setting warm temperatures was April 2015 and the last month that was not above the 20th century average was December, 1984. The last month to break a monthly cold record was December, 1916. This April broke the record set last April by two degrees. While it may not seem like much, this record warming is leading to consequences such as record low snow in the northern hemisphere.

How is this warming trend going to be affecting us this summer? Research conducted by North Carolina State University is predicting a very active hurricane season this year, with four to seven more named storms than normal and one to three more major hurricanes. This will be primarily driven by warmer than normal water temperatures near the coast (despite a cooling trend in the Atlantic) and lower wind shear. Of course, it doesn’t take a major hurricane to cause damage and flooding so it is best to prepare now before the hurricane season starts on June 1st. Check your emergency kit for a good supply of non-perishable food, water, blankets, clothing, batteries, and any pet supplies you may need.

To read more about the record setting temperatures, hurricane forecast, and how to prepare for potential summer storms follow the links below:

Stuck on Hot
Hurricane Season Prediction
Hurricane Preparedness Week

Photo credit: From our Pinterest board “Elements: Water – Pools, water features and more”