Monday, October 15, 2018

Shade / Grass Like Oil / Vinegar

Horticulture Hotline 10/15/18
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

October 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 2019 an excellent gardening year. A Possum’s Custom Program from a soil test – now is the time before the lab gets busy? Do you have some weeds to control that you couldn’t control during the summer because it was too hot?

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 like gangbusters 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.

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 yearly is all you can do in some situations if you like grass. I know several properties that grass is replaced every year because of oak trees.

Brown Patch / Large Patch is attacking the grass as it slows down for the season. Army worms are out and it seems like fire ants and mole crickets exploded in numbers. Have you winterized your grass?

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