The area experienced record-setting rainfall in May and an extraordinarily wet June. During that time, fungus—which thrives in wet, cool weather—was masked by the equally thriving turf.
But with an exceptionally dry spell over the past five or six weeks, stress from drought has descended and the prevalent underlying damage is now plainly apparent.
At this point, the centerpiece of your game plan should be a seeding project between mid-August and Labor Day weekend. A 21-day growth period from germination to full growth is normal, after which you can mow for the first time.
During Fall, there are fewer pressures on the seed and an optimal growing climate. As soil temperatures decrease, dormant weed seeds in the soil are not able to germinate. That minimizes competition for space, nutrients, and moisture for the seed to establish properly and establish healthy root systems.
The soil also retains moisture longer, decreasing your time and water demands. Don’t overwater; short, frequent watering keeps the top layers of soil moist.
Common practice is to keep the top 4-6” of soil moist at all times without being oversaturated. Ten to 15 minutes of irrigation per area will typically provide enough moisture to grow your new lawn.
Need help monitoring and caring for your lawn? We’re here to help!
This installment of "Ask the Plant Expert" will be published in the August 15, 2018 edition of the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, the Forest Park Review and the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark.