September Newsletter: Gardening Tips

Problems with Turf      

With the rain and high humidity, we have seen so far this summer, we have seen lots of issues with fungal disease, not only on plants but also on grass. Here are some of the main problems we have seen with grass particularly.

This summer has been our usual wet one and currently, at the Garden Center, we are seeing some common problems:

Firstly, we are seeing lots of fungal disease- mostly Take-All Root Rot.  This fungal disease is usually triggered by high rainfall and stressed turf areas.  Stresses can be mowing too short (no more than 1/3 of the grass should be cut and only as needed); over fertilizing; and by over watering.  Of course, with the amount of rain we have been having lately, over watering is difficult to control. First symptoms are irregular yellow or light green patches, with isolated black lesions. Eventually the roots become short, black and rotted.

Fungicides are somewhat of a help, however, fungicides are not as effective as the use of cultural controls once the disease symptoms are observed. These fungicides are best used preventively, meaning they must be applied prior to symptom development. Fungicides can be applied at least one month prior to the time when aboveground symptoms are normally observed. Application should continue once a month until the weather is no longer conducive to disease development. These fungicides should be lightly watered into the root zone immediately after application.

Secondly, we are seeing damage from Sod Webworm. You may see evidence of these bugs before you see them as they feed at night and hide in the blades during the day. For this reason, damage seems to appear literally overnight. Signs of damage include areas of ragged grass blades that are shorter than other areas of the grass, thinning of the lawn (fewer leaves), and eventually brown patchy areas.  A clue to Sod Webworm is also the swarms of white moths that will fly around when you walk through the grass.  They are not what is causing the problem rather, the larvae that they hatch in the grass.

Sod webworm damage usually rights itself if you grass is not stressed or unhealthy already. However, if required, use a pesticide labeled for this bug problem.

Thirdly, we are seeing lots of mushrooms in people’s yards. The mushrooms are most observed during the summer months. It is during this time of year when Florida receives most of its rainfall. Mushroom clumps occur when large quantities of organic matter, such as lumber, tree stumps, and logs, are naturally located or have been buried in a lawn. The fungi are nourished and develop on this material. The mushrooms, which can be all sizes and shapes, are the fruiting stages of these fungi.  These mushrooms can be mowed over or removed by hand. Some, but not all, are relatively harmless so if you have pets that are in the yard, removing as they appear would be your best option.

Water

With the amount of rain we have been getting and the possibility of tropical weather, continue to monitor how much water your garden is getting.  If we do get significant rain- turn off your irrigation system if it is not already.  Your landscape only requires ½ inch to ¾ inch of water per week which we have been getting.  In addition, do not forget to empty any standing water in your garden and flush out your bird baths and bromeliads every week to avoid mosquito populations.