By R. Lewis
Special to the PRESS
During the December-January time period there is not usually a lot going on gardening-wise, as our winter season clicks by week by week.
So, I have taken the slower period of time to discuss some topics that I felt needed to be covered more in-depth and will start with spring gardening beginning the first week of February. We are now entering the final full week of January 2021 and over the last three weeks these articles have all covered the overwatering of lawns here in the lower Laguna Madre region of the Rio Grande Valley and the possible result of lawn fungal problems. The two diseases that I am trying to keep homeowners from having are “Brown Patch” (mainly a fall/winter problem) and “Take-All Patch” which is prevalent now, but really spreads once we are well into the warmer months of late spring.
Just last week I was driving through the S.P.I. Golf Course in Laguna Vista and, like you do over there, you wave at everyone outside either walking or hanging out in their front yard. I smiled and waved to one man watering an area of brown, dead grass with his water hose. I thought to myself that is exactly how “Take-All Patch” gets started in lawns. It is only normal to see a dead patch of grass in the lawn and think “Oh, it needs more water” and focus on watering that area of lawn more than the rest. True, during the hot summer months that area may have dried and died, but now continually watering that area (in a period of dormancy) will just further rot the root system of the still-green area surrounding the bad grass and possibly start the spread of “Take-All Patch.”
The bottom line to most lawn fungal problems is overwatering, mainly in yards with automatic sprinkler systems that are running too often. In each of the previous articles, I have recommended turning the irrigation system off (for the rest of the winter) and only run when you are certain the grass needs it. With the recent rain that we have been getting, you may not need to run your irrigation system until the heat starts in springtime. Another deterrent to overwatering your lawn at this time is weed growth. Overwatered lawns will start showing more weed growth throughout the year. You may have noticed many lawns throughout our neighborhoods showing signs of clover growth. Throughout the year overwatered lawns tend to have more problems with crabgrass as well.
I was surprised this past week to see an article by the “Dirt Doctor” Howard Garrett on his Facebook and Instagram sites. It was an article that he did in the Dallas Morning News, titled “Slow Down on Watering during Winter Months.” I have been a fan of his for years, look it up. Also, I found some excellent information on “Take All Patch” on the “Texas A&M AgriLife” site. Please take over watering seriously, save on the water bill and have a beautiful lawn come springtime. Until next week stay safe.
Editor’s note: Robert Lewis owns and operates J&R Landscaping and Nursery, a landscaping company based in Laguna Heights, Texas.