After the Storm: The Lawn Care Recovery Plan

Lately, there has been a lot of rain. Currently, most of the Muskoka area is in a state of emergency, with high water levels that are increasing as the rainfall continues. Excess water can have a devastating effect on your lawn, especially in early spring, when your lawn is just recovering from the harsh winter.

Is your lawn drowning?

The fact is lawns were not meant to be underwater. Small pools of water that remain on the grass can be extremely devastating to the root system and the overall health of the lawn. During flooding conditions, the water pools into the air pockets in the soil effectively drowning your plants. As a result, the root system becomes weaker, making it challenging for your turf to resist insects and disease.

Minimize the Damage During Flooding

So, what can you do? During periods of heavy rainfall, be proactive and try to limit the amount of damage. Your goal during this period is to try to protect your lawn as much as possible.

The following tips will help to decrease the amount of damage:

1) Avoid walking or moving any objects on the lawn as this can cause further damage to the already compromised root system

2) Remove any items from the lawn that could be added any additional pressure or preventing the water from draining.

3) Scan the area to see which spots lack drainage, check for puddles or any other regions of standing water.

4) If possible, try using a small pump to help drain large pools of water, this will help the lawn dry out faster.

5) In areas which seem to be unable to shed surface water, we highly recommend edging out the lawn into a small trench. Once the area has dried up, place the edged-out pieces back.

6) Avoid mowing your lawn until it is fully dry.

When the lawn dries up, it’s time to think about how to bring the health back to your lawn. The good news is that despite how water logged your lawn may look right now, you can bring it back to health.

Top tips to get that root system strong and healthy again:

1: It’s time to Aerate

Heavy rainfalls can fill in the natural air pockets in the soil, compacting the soil and making it difficult for the roots to penetrate through. Lawns require oxygen to thrive, and when the soil is compacted, the oxygen is unable to reach the root system. The result is a shallow root system and a lawn that is susceptible to disease and insect damage.

One of the best ways to add oxygen back into the soil is through aeration. In fact, we recommend aeration as part of your regular spring maintenance; but, after heavy rainfalls aeration is a necessity. Why? This process is the best solution to bring oxygen back into the soil and provide room for the root system to strengthen and grow.

2. Make it Level by Top Dressing

Top dressing is an effective tool to help repair any consistently waterlogged patches and decrease soil erosion. For sandy soils, like the ones we have in our Muskoka region, we use a bagged compost topdressing to add nutrients back to the compromised soil.

3. Fill in the Gaps by Overseeding

Our lawns go through a lot of wear and tear. Long periods of rainfall can result in bare patches in the lawn, especially, when it occurs in early spring where they may have already been some damage from the harsh winter. To maintain a healthy lawn, with minimal weeds, adopt a regular schedule of over-seeding. We recommend over-seeding your lawn twice per season using blends with perennial ryegrass and fescues. This will help thicken up the thin areas and help build a strong, healthy turf.

4. Give it a Nutrient Boost

Excess water can result in nutrients leaching from the soil, and in turn, not getting into the plant’s root system- leaving your lawn vulnerable to disease and damage. To help give that root system a boost, add in additional nutrients to encourage root growth and help re-establish the lawn. Fertilizers high in phosphorus can help build the root system, but be careful, as too much can result in nutrient leaching. This can be particularly devastating to areas around any waterways.

In regions, with large amounts of coniferous trees, we also recommend adding dolomitic lime. Adding lime will decrease the amount of acidity in the soil and help return your turf to one that is strong and healthy. Once the lawn is re-established, give it a bit of a boost by adding in a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen to encourage that green, healthy, growth.

5. Protect your Systems

The last area we wanted to touch on is any irrigation and landscape lighting system that you already have in place. In most cases, especially since it’s early spring, the systems should be fine. Our team at Earth Elements can help ensure that your irrigation and lighting systems are working at an optimal level, and address any concerns before they become a major issue.

However; if you’re planning to start up the system on your own, pay attention to the following:

Contact your service provider if:

· There is any sediment build up or washout

· If the systems are in flooded or damaged boathouses

· Any areas of the system that may appear damaged or compromised.

Protect your lawn from the damage from flooding, insect damage, and other climate hurdles, with a proactive lawn care strategy. At Earth Elements, our goal is to provide you with the tools and techniques to keep your lawn green and thriving.