Monday, September 4, 2017

Mike Williams Did It Again!

Horticulture Hotline 09/04/17
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

He has done it again! Mike Williams, head groundskeeper for Riley Park – The Charleston RiverDogs, has won the South Atlantic Leagues “Field of the Year” honors once again. Mike has won this award 5 of the last 9 years. Pretty amazing when you consider The Citadel plays in the same ballpark. Not to mention all the special events that go on that have nothing to do with baseball like the Ballpark Festival of Beers that was 8/26/17.

Mike is a dedicated turf manager that has connections throughout the turf world. Mike worked in Major League Baseball where among other positions he was head groundskeeper for the New York Mets at Shea Stadium. He is super dedicated to his work and can do amazing things with very little just by being organized and working off a plan that is largely influenced by The Citadel and The RiverDogs’ schedule of games and of course the aforementioned special events. Mike’s planning and time management skills make him so efficient it seems like he gets the work done of five people.

Congratulations Mike Williams!   

September is here. Cooler temperatures, grass slowing down, and the living is easy. This is the time to reflect and think about winter projects that will make 2018 an excellent gardening year.

The question I have been asked the most this year revolves around dying grass (other than moles – moles always top the list). The answer has always involved too much shade. Trees generally grew a bunch and put on a lot of leaves this year, and as a result, grass suffered due to lack of sunlight.

For the most part all the grasses around here like full sun – yes, even St. Augustine (or Charleston grass) prefers full sun. St. Augustine (or Charleston grass) prefers full sun; however, can tolerate shade better than some of the grasses. Most PHD doctors agree that even St. Augustine requires six hours of direct sunlight to provide a healthy stand of grass.

The statement I hear the most is something like this, “I just replaced this grass in the Spring.” This scenario is very common because you replaced the grass because it died due to shade and now the new grass is dying because of shade issues. The trees in this area have grown record amounts this year and the grass has been unable to capture the sunlight with its chlorophyll and produce the needed carbohydrates to establish a healthy stand of turf. 

On side yards, trees grown between houses and the houses themselves block a lot of the sunlight. Side yards are often very narrow, so all the foot traffic is concentrated into a small area. Water from the houses is often directed to flow between the houses. A combination of traffic, extra water and shade is deadly to most grass. Mulch, blue stone, oyster shell, or some other footpath and a drainage system might be a good winter project for this area.

Some solutions to these situations could be to grow heat tolerate ryegrass. Ryegrass grows very good here especially in shady areas. Check out White Point Gardens (The Battery) next time you are driving downtown.

Redesign beds that were put in years ago while the trees were small, making more beds and less grass. Healthy green grass bordered by mulch is a nice look.

Remove shrubs and trees that are shading your turf, if zoning allows. If your landscape has become over mature, maybe you can transplant some shrubs or small trees.

Grow grass in these areas and plan to replace it as needed and not feel bad about it. Regularly trim your trees in this area and not feel bad about it. Sometimes we are kind of stuck with the landscape we have. Growing grass as an annual that you change out regularly is all you can do.

Brown Patch  / Large Patch is attacking the grass as it slows down for the season. Army worms are out and it seems like the mosquitoes exploded in numbers.

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.