Watching the grass grow has always been a metaphor for being genuinely bored. So imagine how much more painful it would be NOT to watch the weed grow. And yet, watching the grass not grow thanks to Ontario’s drought this year turned out to be far more interesting than I thought it would be.
I had naively made the assumption that I could put the lawnmower away and let the grass sleep until spring because the drought had stunted my lawn so that the tallest grass barely reached my ankles. That was a very bad assumption, but in my defense, having a lawn is something new to me.
I suspected there was more to it so I decided I needed to speak to an expert and since I was Dr. After asking Eric Lyons about the Ontario drought and how it’s affecting our grass, I went back to the Guelph Turfgrass to ask him what I should do with my lawn before the snow starts to pile up.
He explained that the summer wasn’t quite as bad as we thought when we spoke in early summer.
“Our drought was pretty long but we had a few timely rains that weren’t quite enough to green the lawn but I think it kept the lawn alive and that’s what we needed,” he explained.
So alive is good, but how do we get our lawn to survive the winter?
according to dr Lyons there are some important things that can be done before the snow starts to fall.
“One of the biggest problems with the drought is that the grass is weakened. It takes resources to grow and it takes resources to recover from that long dormant period,” he said.
“The key is to make sure there is enough water and adequate fertilizer for the grass. Throughout the drought, it couldn’t get the nitrogen or potassium it needed. So, in September, and It is important to do this before Octoberit’s important to give it enough nitrogen to give it enough growth to fill in spots that may be a bit worn down or have little growth before winter.”
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Fertilizer is a bit of a mystery to me, and when Dr. Lyons was talking about fertilizing the grass, I had no idea what to take or how much to put down. He worked it out for me.
“A lawn fertilizer contains nitrogen, very little phosphorus and potassium, and you want to apply half a kilogram per 100 square meters. While some areas of Canada require high levels of phosphorus, if you live there you probably already know what you need.”
“If you have patchy patches of grass due to wear and tear or insect damage, you need to overseed before the grass stops dressing. For this, a good mix of Kentucky bluegrass, perennial rye, and fine fescue will work if you can keep most traffic off it. 100% perennial ryegrass will turn lawns green quicker but may not be able to handle another drought when it comes.”
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i have dr Asked Lyons about mowing as I literally didn’t take my mower out of the shed at all this summer and planned to bury it under all the other stuff that usually comes in sheds. I get very used to being wrong.
“Many of us gave up mowing our lawns this summer because of the drought. We mowed once every three weeks and then just stopped mowing altogether. But we have to mow well into the fall while the grass is growing,” he explained. “We do this because when we get a lot of growth in the fall, the grass grows up and falls over and then doesn’t recover as well in the spring. Another key is to make sure there are no grass clippings or leaves lying on the lawn. You don’t have to bag it all, instead mow enough to mulch the leaves and grass clippings enough to fall through the canopy.”
So while summer has been rough on our lawns, don’t give up just yet. Fertilizing and fertilizing can give our lawns the best start to spring that you can. Just make sure you get there as soon as possible. It may still feel like summer out there, but colder temperatures are on the way and things are still interesting among the green leaves sprouting in our front and back yards.
(Image credit for thumbnail: Getty Images)