In regards to lawn grass, you will have a variety of preferences among homeowners. Some people want a lawn that looks like a well-managed golf course to folks that just want something growing in the lawn no matter if it is weeds, they simply do not want to see bare ground.
There are a variety of reasons why a lawn will begin to thin out, but a thin lawn can be susceptible to moss and algae growth. In a nutshell, the moss and algae have developed because growing conditions for growing a very lush and healthy turf have declined for one reason or another.
There are conditions that will assist moss and algae development in a lawn. Favorable conditions are wet, humid conditions and compacted soils along with thin turf. Moss will be seen normally in shady areas that have infertile and acidic soils with a good deal of thatch. Algae is more common in full-sun areas and in fertile soils.
Today, I will be sharing information on how to control moss and algae from a revised UGA publication by Tim Daly, of Gwinnett County Extension.
For starters, I would like to begin with cultural management practices that can be conducted by the homeowner to prevent moss and algae. The goal is to have a thriving turfgrass that will reduce the competition from moss and algae.
The first tip is going to revolve around soil testing. I know this sounds like a broken record, but you need to soil test in order to maintain proper soil fertility and pH. For most of our lawn grasses, we like to keep the soil pH between 6.0 to 6.5. Properly taken soil samples will result in accurate liming and fertilizing recommendations for your lawn.
Another tip is improve soil drainage if you have a problem. If the soil stays wet because of poor drainage, you will need to fix the situation. This has been a very unusual rainy period since last fall, but many of you know if you had a drainage issue in normal weather conditions.
Our information adds to increase light penetration and air circulation as a preventative measure. It is suggested to prune tree limbs below 10 feet and selected limbs in the tree crow to increase light penetration as well as air movement. You can remove less desirable trees. You can also thin or remove shrubs. Daly adds that areas surrounded by buildings and vegetation with limbs close to the ground may require a lot of work to get you to a proper light and air penetration situation.
Another idea is to use shade tolerant grass varieties for the lawn. Do your homework if you are choosing a shade tolerant grass type. This would be more in the lines of some of the zoysia or fescue options. Our information adds that if direct sunlight does not reach the ground during the day, an ornamental ground cover such as liriope or mondograss may be an option for this type of site.
Do not forget to improve compacted soils by aeration. Core aeration equipment can normally be rented in the area or you can hire this type of work out. I will state that soil drainage in fine textured soils can be assisted by cultivation and adding large amounts of organic matter and even sand.
How you irrigate the lawn can be a preventative measure too in regards to moss and algae. Keep in mind to irrigate deeply and infrequently. Many folks will irrigate their lawn grasses, but either do not irrigate correctly or do not look for signs of moisture stress prior. Stay away from the frequent and light irrigation events. Looks for signs of moisture stress before irrigating the lawn. When you do irrigate, you need to try to wet the soil down to at least 6 inches.
A rule of thumb is that most lawn grasses will need about an inch of water each week during the growing season. A soil can become saturated so if you start seeing pools of water or puddling, stop the irrigation and wait for two to three hours to give the water time to soak into the ground. When this happens, you can continue with the irrigation. You may have to start and stop until the soil get soaked to the correct depth. There may be times that you may have to renovate your lawn. If you turf cover is less than 50 percent, you may have to renovate. I will add that there are chemical suppression options in dealing with moss and algae in turf that we may discuss in future articles.
Finally, our May 2019 Lunch and Learn series of day trips and classes are ready for promoting. You can visit the Gordon County Extension/Agriculture and Natural Resources Facebook page to see the upcoming events.