GTI Lawn & Garden Letter

Entertaining advice for home gardeners with a focus on lawn and garden care and the outdoor gardening lifestyle. Suitable primarily for people living in northeastern North America and similar temperate climates in other parts of the world.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Dry Conditions Persist

The dry conditions persist through much of southern Ontario although some areas have received some rain. There is also rain in the forecast for the next few days, so let's keep our fingers crossed. Eastern Ontario has been a bit more fortunate with more regular rainfall.

Depending upon temperatures, lawns can go about four weeks with no irrigation. About 5 mm per week is needed to keep dormant turf alive over a longer period as opposed to the 25 mm (or 1 inch) of water needed to keep a lawn lush and green through the summer. Use old tuna cans set up around your sprinkler and a watch to see how much time it takes your sprinkler to apply the appropriate amount of water.

Dormant lawns are extremely low maintenance. Mowing a dormant lawn is not necessary and can even cause damage as the wheel pressure can kill the dormant grass plants. Try to avoid traffic of any type on dormant lawns.

If you have experienced grub problems in the past and noticed the adult beetle flights earlier in the summer, you still have an opportunity to treat to prevent grub problems this fall and winter. Merit is a relatively new product that can only be applied by licenced lawn care applicators but it is extremely effective in controlling grub damage. Nematodes, which are a biological alternative, should not be applied to dry, dormant turf as they require soil moisture to move through the soil and infect the grub larvae. Chinch bugs are also coming on strong this summer. Check my previous message for details on monitoring their development.

The dry conditions are helping to keep the crabgrass in check this summer but watch out if we get some rain as it will really take off. There is not much you can do at this point except make note of the location of the crabgrass and plan your management strategy for next year. An organic (corn gluten meal) or chemical pre-emergent control can be applied early next season to control next year's crop of crabgrass. Crabgrass is rarely a problem in lawns that have a high mowing height and are properly fertilized.

Speaking of fertilizer, there is no point in fertilizing a dormant lawn. However, later in August or early September when (hopefully) we get some rain and cooler temperatures, your lawn will start to green up and grow which is a good time to provide some nutrients to encourage recovery from summer stresses.

Guelph Turfgrass Institute Open House

Every wonder what is involved in the science of growing grass? Interested in learning how to calibrate your sprinkler and water your lawn more efficiently? Want to view the hot new annuals and perennials before they show up in garden centres? Then plan to attend the Guelph Turfgrass Institute Open House and Trial Garden Display on Thursday, August 16th from noon to 8:00 pm. The planned agenda is as follows:

Noon - 8:00 pm

Self Guided Tours of Research Areas and Trial Gardens

12:30 pm -4:00 pm

Presentations by Various GTI Researchers

4:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Lawn Care Demonstrations

Cut Flower Arranging Workshops

5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Dr. Lyons' Famous BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

7:00 pm

Live Bluegrass Music with the Speed River Valley Mountain Boys

Admission is free and everyone is welcome. The Guelph & Wellington County Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer your gardening questions as well. Follow the link below for a printable map showing the location of the Guelph Turfgrass Institute at 328 Victoria Road South in Guelph. We hope to see you there!

Directions to the Guelph Turfgrass Institute Open House