Am I the only one who was NOT ready for the cold spike that we had a couple of Friday’s ago?! Seriously, it was S L E E T I N G on my way home from work and all I kept thinking was…I am not ready for this yet!!
While I was sitting by the fire that night I started thinking about weather predictions and what The Old Farmers Almanac called for this winter. So, I picked up my little yellow book and started reading.
This little book is full of interesting anecdotes and novelty information. I skimmed through the classifieds full of psychic ads and natural fertilizers. I indulged a bit in the astrology section and the moon’s influence on seed germination and yield. Then I came across the section about how they predict the weather.
So how DO they predict the weather?
Solar Activity, Climatology, and Meteorology
Solar Activity (sunspots more specifically) have a direct influence on the Earth’s weather. Sunspots are magnetic storms on the surface of the sun and they increase and decrease over the course of an 11 year cycle. The cycles start and end with what scientists call Solar Maximums and Solar Minimums. The Solar Maximum peaks when there are the most visible sunspots during that cycle and the sun is outputting the most energy. The Solar Minimum is just the opposite.
These bright areas on the sun are called sunspots
Climatology and Meteorology are studies of the climate and the earth’s atmosphere that are based off of statistics over a certain period of time. At the Almanac, they base their predictions on 30-year statistical averages prepared by Governmental Meteorological Agencies that are updated every 10 years.
Basically, scientists at the Almanac take current solar activity and compare it to solar patterns along with statistical averages of our climate and atmosphere to predict the weather. Pretty neat, huh?
So, what kind of winter is the Almanac calling for in 2017-2018?
Colder- but not colder than usual? What does that mean for us because I’m pretty sure that Christmas last year was sunny and 75! The map says the North Texas region will be cold and snowy so I am crossing my fingers for a White Christmas.
More frosts means less insects and diseases
The last couple of winters have been pretty wacky and the insects have had longer periods of breeding time and have been multiplying by mass amounts. This is not good for weakened plants that are targeted by plant eating insects. More freezes would be a plus, but minus the freeze damage that ensued last year.
As of now, we encourage everyone to cut off their system. Lower nighttime temperatures mixed with excess moisture equals a fungal breeding ground. If you are noticing brown spots in your yard, give us a call because you could have Brown Patch AKA Rhizoctonia. If not, you can sit back and enjoy the cold rainy winter ahead of us!
Finally, it’s warm! YAY! But in true Texan form, we will all be complaining in 3 weeks about how hot it is. Isn’t that an oddity? It never fails, e v e r y s i n g l e y e a r we have something to say about our weather and how we CAN’T BELIEVE that it’s this hot! Didn’t Albert Einstein once say that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity? We must be….
Anyway, now that the temperatures are rising what can you be doing to ride the wave of weather change?
Water! Water! Water!
Water is life. Without water we perish, along with any other living organism on this earth. Proper watering practices not only bring life to plants but sustain their health. It can alleviate compaction, nutrient deficiencies and also prevent certain diseases. It is extremely imperative to maintain a balanced watering regimen if you are concerned about the health of your plants. Maintaining this balance will also help reduce the overuse of water and if you are on our Soil Building Program, will allow you to get the most benefit from our treatments.
Over Watering Vs. Under Watering - Is one better than the other?
In regards to turf, it all depends on your variety.
Bermuda responds much better to over watering than under. St. Augustine on the other hand is quite the opposite. Over watering St. Augustine can dig you into a hole that is much harder to get out of than it was to get in. In St. Augustine lawns, overwatering can cause a dreaded fungal disease called Rhizoctonia - AKA Brown Patch. While Brown Patch does not kill the grass, it leaves it leaves an unsightly appearance and the affected areas are slower to green up in the spring.
It is crucial to maintain proper watering practices while still considering what mother nature brings to the table. This can get hard, right? Some of you may never be able to tell if you’re watering enough or too much. Don’t fret! We’ve got a perfect guide that is black and white when it comes to watering your lawn.
Our watering guide is universal for all turf varieties
Weed Alert! Our Summertime Nuisances!
Crabgrass is a thorn in a lot of homeowners’ side come summertime. It usually appears in May and sticks around throughout the end of the year. Crabgrass grows in a clumping manner and the runners branch out much like the legs on a crab. If you prefer to steer clear of chemicals, the best natural way to get rid of crabgrass is to cut it off at the crown (flush with the ground). This kills the weed and leaves the root intact to decompose and feed the soil. Win Win!
Clumps of Crabgrass
Nutsedge made an earlier appearance than normal this year. It usually shows up around May but started popping up in March this year. The blades appear to be long, skinny and dark green. Some may consider nutsedge to be a weed while others respect it as a natural addition to the polyculture that your landscape is intended to be. If you want this weed gone, whatever you do, DO NOT PULL IT. Nutsedge germinates through agitation.
If you are on our program and notice you have nutsedge, give us a call. Nutsedge requires an additional charge to treat but we can eradicate it.
If you see this weed, don't pull it!
Less Is More in Texas Landscapes!
In this day and age we are all about finding ways to make our lives easier. Naturally, that is the reason why most of you hire someone to do your lawn care maintenance for you. If you are one who has a hard time keeping up their end of the lawn care maintenace deal (i.e. watering), try planting Native Texas Plants. Any native varieties require little to no maintenance and are a beautiful addition to any landscape. Some of my favorites are: Texas Sage, Bird of Paradise and Vitex. Hardscapes also call for less maintenance which means spending less money! Plus, weeds and diseases are most of the time non-existent so you can still have the prettiest lawn on the block!
As humans, we feel the need to fix everything. We see a problem and we instinctively try to find a solution. Unfortunately, Mother Nature does not come with an instruction manual. When you are unfamiliar with the task at hand (landscaping for example), your ego can overcome your ability to ask for help; leaving you with a bigger mess than what you started with.
When it comes to lawn maintenance, there is more than meets the eye.
Not everyone is equipped with the right skills and knowledge to take care of their lawn. Most homeowners begin their landscape maintenance journey with high hopes and confidence that they can do it on their own and burn out quickly when they can’t diagnose or resolve their issues. You don’t have to conquer your landscape battles on your own!
How does the weather come into play?
Too much rain can cause fungal issues, not enough rain can cause dehydration. Mild winters or springs (major trend this year) can cause more weeds and a longer transition time out of dormancy. Needless to say, in our industry, the weather controls everything. We are truly at the mercy of what Mother Nature decides to throw at us each day. Our decisions have to be prompt, diligent and meticulous. As you can imagine, having to base those decisions off of a prediction can be stressful to say the least.
Don’t be afraid to call the experts!
Our landscapes are truly a force to be reckoned with. Luckily, this isn’t our first rodeo! After being in the business for 20 years now, we have learned to accept and respect the ebb & flow of Texas’ seasons and unpredictable weather patterns.
Is your choice of turf variety hindering the full potential of your landscape?
Bermuda lawns need abundant sunlight to thrive. If your landscape does not allow for at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day, it is not a practical growing environment for Bermudagrass.
St. Augustine on the other hand is known to only require 4+ hours of direct sunlight but it comes along with its own baggage. While it is a good alternative, St. Augustine is not native to Texas and is seemingly always under stress unless put in the perfect conditions. It has been especially stressed this year due to the major freeze damage that has occurred from the previous winter. It is also extremely prone to fungal issues like Brown Patch and one in particular that can cause significant damage to the health of the turf - Take All Root Rot.
Healthy St Augustine lawn
Although Bermuda & St Augustine are the usual "go to" picks, you do have other options that are appealing to the eye and fairly tolerant to shade & pesky diseases!
It’s time to get practical!
We know first hand as Texans that we love our lawns and our shady trees! But just like most things in life, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. It may be time stop fighting a losing battle and start accommodating your growing environment instead of disrupting it.
So, who wins?
Mother Nature-1 Human-0.
Stop trying to predict her next move and go with the flow!
Things we do know:
The weather and seasons are always changing. Our lives are much simpler when we accept the changes instead of trying to fight them.
Most grasses do not survive in significant shade. Maybe install some large beds that expand out about halfway to the canopy of the tree. You could fill the beds with shade tolerant ground cover, river rock or hardwood bark mulch. You can even install a water feature or if you need some good luck- throw a garden gnome in there!
If you don’t know, ask! Don’t get yourself in a pickle because you don’t want to ask for help. We are here to provide practical, natural minded advice and treatment for your landscape. We want everyone to win!