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!
First off, what is Brown Patch disease?
Brown Patch is caused by the fungus, Rhizoctonia solani. You can spot Brown Patch by the circular brown areas that appear in your turf: St. Augustine being the most susceptible.You will notice small to very large circular patches of grass turning a brownish yellow color. The patches will vary in size, but the browned leaf blades will remain upright, pulling out easily from the runner and resemble straw or hay. Recognizing the signs early on is key to reducing the disease over time.
Brown Patch in St. Augustine Lawn
Did you fall victim to this disease last year? If so, what can you expect out of your lawn this spring?
With the cool rainy spell that started in August of last year, we saw an uncanny amount of Brown Patch throughout the metroplex.
If you are one of the many who dealt with this disease, you are probably noticing that those previously infected areas are still looking pretty lifeless compared to the rest of your turf. Don’t fear! These areas will recover but expect a 2-3 week delay in green up.
Although we cannot control the weather, we can control our watering. Excessive moisture and mild temperatures are a trigger for Brown Patch. So, as it continues to stay cool at night and frequently raining - DO NOT WATER! See our watering guide for more detail on this.
Are you due for an irrigation audit?
A well-run system that is checked yearly can help prevent over and underwatering. By making sure your system is functioning properly you’ll notice: healthier plants, less water runoff and flooding, and a savings on your water bill. If you have questions about scheduling your system or its functionality, you should highly consider an irrigation audit.