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How Weather Affects your Lawn

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Introduction

Our Canadian weather is unpredictable at best so it is difficult to really know how weather affects our lawn. Obviously, weather is a variable that we rely on each year but can change on a dime. As lawn care professionals we are keenly aware of the weather to give your lawn the right treatment at the right time given the weather that we are dealt from our friend Mother Nature. See below for the Farmers Almanac forecast for the year and how those predictions could affect your lawn throughout the growing season. Please note, this is just a prediction and is just a general guide to help homeowners understand how different weather patterns cause different reactions within your lawn.

Winter Forecast

Temperature – Slightly above normal
Precipitation – Above normal

Effect on Lawn

Typically, we lose between 5 – 15% of our lawn each year from environmental stresses. When we have warmer, snowier winters there is a lot of moisture that is retained in the soil. Moisture is a good thing! However, something to keep in mind is that if we are getting fluctuating temperatures and repeated freeze/thaw cycle this puts a lot of stress on the crown of the grass blade. Cold winters with less snow result in typically more “winter kill” because the snow acts as a winter coat and protects the more vulnerable parts of the lawn (i.e. soil, crown). Imagine going out in -20 degrees Celsius without a coat. I definitely shudder at the thought and the same is true for your grass!

Helpful tips for this kind of weather

There’s not much you can do now that winter is upon us as most of what you can do for your lawn is done in the fall (see below). However, the main thing you can do to reduce the damage that could result over the winter-time is minimize traffic on the lawn from the first sign of frost to the final melt of the year. As grass blades go dormant, they are their most vulnerable so any added pressure may result in a brittle root system or damaged blades and potentially not come back in the springtime.

Spring Forecast

Temperature – Warmer than normal
Precipitation – Slightly drier than normal

Effect on Lawn

Warmer temperatures don’t always mean an early spring, so it is important to make sure that the majority of the snow piles are gone before fertilizing. If there is minimal rainfall in the springtime you may have to pull out the hose a bit earlier than usual to help keep the soil moist and receptive to additional nutrients.

Helpful tips for this kind of weather

A spring fertilizer is the most important step that a homeowner can do to set their lawn up for success for the growing season. It is also advised to rake the lawn prior to the fertilizer from being applied. Keep an eye on the morning dew and the precipitation after that spring fertilizer to make sure that there is enough water in the lawn/soil to breakdown the beneficial nutrients to help your keep your lawn strong and healthy.

Summer Forecast

Temperature – Hotter than normal (June and Mid-August)
Precipitation – near normal

Effect on Lawn

Hot and humid temperatures combined with lack of rainfall can result in the lawn going dormant. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if your lawn is already thick, healthy and well fertilized. It is also a peak time for chinch bugs to breed and infest your lawn. These can cause serious damage in a short amount of time. If you see small brown patches expanding off trees and gardens, treat for these immediately or call your local lawn care professional. Crabgrass also

Helpful tips for this kind of weather

The weeds will continue to grow even if the lawn has gone dormant so it is best to maintain your cutting schedule to stop them from multiplying and overtaking the rest of your lawn. Consistently check for chinch bugs around gardens and trees to stay ahead of them and be able to treat for them as quickly as possible. Water deeply, for longer periods of time rather than short bursts more frequently. This helps your lawn retain the water and use it as it needs. Imaging running a marathon and only taking a sip of water. But if you drink several bottles of water you will hydrate and recover faster.

Fall Forecast

Temperature – Cooler than normal
Precipitation – Near normal

Effect on Lawn

The lawn is now recovering from the hot, humid summer so you should start to see your green, lush lawn again. But it will be hungry and searching for food so it might be a lighter green than you’d like. Also, around the middle of October, the existing weeds will start to die off naturally as the weather cools and they will stop seeding to create new weeds.

Helpful tips for this kind of weather

Early fall (September) is very similar to spring lawn care. When the season is closing out is when it is important to prepare the lawn for our long harsh winters. Applying a winter fertilizer with higher volumes of potassium will help the lawn focus on root development for the winter months. Keeping the debris off the lawn, i.e. leaves, old lawn clippings and tree branches, helps the lawn breathe and allow for the winter fertilizer to be absorbed. The last cut of the year should be the same height that you have been cutting all season. A common mistake is cutting very short before the snow falls. This causes unnecessary strain on the roots and will actually make the grass weaker and be less likely to come back in the spring. Overseeding is always, always, always recommended in the fall time to fill in any thinning areas but also to supplement the existing aging grass.

Conclusion

Weather matters when considering the treatment of any living, breathing organism. It is important to understand how weather affects your lawn so this can be a daunting task to keep track of as the year progresses. Stay tuned for our updates, specific to the season with more detailed tips and tricks of how to handle them as the year progresses!

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