With the new year finally here a reflection on the following year is the best way to make 2017 the best year yet. 2016 gave us a perfect spring, a hot, humid summer bereft of rain and a late fall. The biggest issue that the industry here on Long Island faced last year was fungus, namely Dollar Spot and Brown Patch.
These fungi appear when a number of situations arise. The biggest proponent to a fungus outbreak is Humidity. When there is a two or three day period of high humidity, fungus will show up. Another practice that encourages fungus is evening and late night watering; when the lawn stays saturated for an extensive amount of time it allows itself to be susceptible to fungi. Drops in the Nitrogen level will also allow certain fungi to flourish. Finally the length of the grass can either welcome or deter fungi.
Knowing what creates fungus is half the battle, knowing the correct measures to combat them is the other. Although we can not prevent humidity we can take preemptive measures to prevent them and use grass varieties that are more resilient to humidity and fungus. I like to use an equal blend of Bluegrass, Fescue and Rye grasses in the fall while either over seeding or aerating and over seeding in preparation for the following season. I also encourage my customers to water between 3 and 6 am to minimize the time that the ground stays saturated. The next two practices fall solely on your landscaper, that is, maintaining a correct nitrogen level and grass cut height. I found that frequent low nitrogen liquid based fertilizer applications helped deter fungus well. This involved bi-weekly applications of low nitrogen fertilizer that was complimentary for my customers. I found this to be very successful and fully intend on continuing the practice. Lastly, the length of the grass depends on the height of the lawn mower blades. I keep the grass very low in the spring and raise the height in the summer, this practice has a few benefits. First, its height in the summer hides the midsummer browning in the post spring thatch and of the cooler season grasses that go dormant in the heat. Two, its' height prevents fungus, taller grass is better at thwarting fungus than shorter grass. Lastly the longer summer grass is a darker green further up the blade, this provides a better looking, fuller lawn.