We are half way through the month of July and there have been a few days of rainfall and some nice humidity that has given our grass a boost. As I said a week ago this has been a particularly trying transition year. I have answered tons of e-mails from people concerned early on about the growth of their bermudagrass or paspalum, but as we move forward it seems people are starting to see what is necessary to get their lawn up and going in the summer time.

Transition time is never fun and most years it comes and goes with just a little damage to your warm season grass, but this summer has caused a few more issues. To keep things in perspective I think it is important to realize that golf courses, sports fields, most professional turf managers struggle also. I like to use an example that if you heard a golf course superintendent say they had a great transition year and the course is now 90 percent bermudagrass, it still means they are sodding 1/2 to 3/4’s of an acre. Remember those figures are on a good year so when you see your lawn and it is 80-90 percent, you are really only fixing up 100-200 SF for the average lawn. This will obviously change depending on the square footage of your yard.

Today I want to move past transition and start looking ahead to the maintenance phase of your lawn.

Most of us still have issues stemming from the transition. Moving forward, it is important to keep your lawn healthy so when the weather cooperates, your lawn is actively growing. If you are looking at some large bare areas in your lawn right now and the stolons will need to travel farther than 8-12 inches to fill the gaps in you should look at picking up and replacing a few rolls of sod. It is very easy to square up some small areas, use a flat shovel to dig out the existing turf, rake up the ground and lay a little sod. You can get individual rolls of sod for as little as $3.50 for a 10 SF roll. It makes a huge difference and during this time of the year it will root down in 4-7 days.

If the areas are smaller than that and the stolons are just looking for a place to tack down to the ground then lightly rake up the soil, add sand if you need to level and push the grass with fertilizer. I recommend the following mix to maintain good bermudagrass top growth as well as keep the root system healthy.

First, you should apply a balanced fertilizer such as the Soil Burst products, I like the 7-7-7 or 4-0-6 at this time of the year, followed by an application of ammonium sulfate. This is a straight nitrogen application that is designed to give you top growth only so it is vital to the health of your turf to have other nutrients also available. The ammonium sulfate 21-0-0 is available at most stores including Sprinkler World, Ace Hardware and Home Depot, and should be applied at 5 pounds of product per 1000 SF. Since this is an extremely hot fertilizer you do need to water it in right after the application for at least 10 minutes and it is always best to apply it first thing in the morning before the hottest part of the day. This is not a good application for paspalum and should not be used ever for growth. Remember paspalum prefers the minor nutrients and the Soil Burst line provides the right amount for each months application.

The ammonium sulfate runs around $10-$15 a bag. Again this is not a miracle cure for everyone but it is a means of helping to speed up growth so your lawn is in tip top shape before the overseed season. If you are just planting sod now you should not overseed your lawn this fall as you will not have enough days to fully establish a bermudagrass lawn. If you are just doing a little patch work, I would not be concerned about overseeding.

Watering during this time of the year can be a little tricky as we go from dry, arid conditions, to hot with a little bit of humidity. When there is humidity in the air the moisture will stay in the plant much longer and allow you you use much less water. On the dry 110 degree days you may need to compensate by adding 5 extra minutes to your normal every other to every third day watering schedule. During peak periods of hot, humid weather there is some opportunity to develop some fungi so make sure you are watering early in the morning so the grass has a chance to dry out during the day.

If you water at night the water will stay in the plant all night long creating excess humidity and the potential for various diseases. We don’t develop too many diseases here, but if you do develop one pick up a fungicide and follow the label instructions to keep it in check. Some symptoms can include (but are not limited to) small quarter sized brown patches, slimy feel of the leaf blades, cotton candy or spider web type appearance on the grass blades, or change in color of the various leaf tips. Now the change in color of the leaf tips is usually an indication of an nutrient imbalance, so don’t run out to buy a fungicide unless you really see some troubling spots. The areas are typically in random patterns and will spread out through the yard. Again these are pretty rare and unless you water daily, has little air movement from trees, or are over fertilizing your lawn you can pretty much relax about developing a disease.

This is a great time of the year to perform various cultural practices such as aerification, verticutting, or topdressing. Your yard will recover extremely quick and this will help alleviate the compacted soil, and help thin out the over grown turf canopy. You can rent an aerifier and verticutter or simply bring someone in to take care of these for you. Mark out and spray paint circles around all of your sprinkler heads So you don’t hit any and cause damage to them. You can also use flags if you have them available.

Have a good couple weeks, watch your water, keep the nutrients in the ground balanced, and marvel how heat and humidity will make your lawn thrive.

Let me know if you have any additional questions I can help you with.

Speed Goat 50K

For my running followers out there I just finished up a nice weekend in Boston getting some city mileage in before I get into the serious race season. Since I do all of my tap raining in the mountains besides a little track work I thought it would be nice to work on a little speed during my brief stay in the city. My goal is to continue to increase my speed a little more every time I go out so I can feel pretty coincident about running a sub 20 hour race in South Dakota.

It is a very ambitious goal for my first 100M race and only three people did it last year, but I think of everything goes right and I feel good, it is quite possible. I had a couple good 20 mile city runs around the Charles River and through the downtown areas all the while feeling like my clothes were submerged in water from the humidity. I shouldn’t be a stranger to the humidity as I grew up and spent 20 years in Michigan, but it really takes it’s toll during a long run. I can’t say it was any worse than the 110 degrees I am usually training in but it gave me that renewed perspective on things when I hear the east coast weather men tell us how hot it is on the east coast.

Next weekend I will run what is called the hardest 50k in the country as I try and tackle the Speed Goat 50K in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. This will mark my 501st consecutive day of running at least four miles and hopefully I can show some good results. Most people don’t benefit from running daily and I don’t recommend it to anyone, but when it has been this long, why stop? The race starts at an elevation of 7600 and goes up to just under 12,000 feet. The elevation could very well be my demise as I will not have time to acclimate to the elevation prior to the race so I am going as close to race time as possible hoping that the headaches and other issues will hold off a couple days before my body realizes just where I am running.

This race will have a little bit of everything as it has several long up hills and down hills, but there is also going to still be snow throughout some of the course. It seems awfully weird to think about running through the snow in 70 degree weather with shorts on, sucking wind because of the elevation, but yet sweating at the same time.

It is not your typical race as I have been told that every time you see an aid station in the distance or you think you are to the top of the mountain you will be sent straight downhill and get another climb before the aid station. This will play some serious tricks on the mind, but with the right planning it should be doable. Much of what I have read said this race takes an average of 8:30 hours to complete the 32M course. My last 50K through the San Tan mounains took me 4:48 so patience will be important next week as I try and finish the toughest 50k in the country. This will be my last warm up race before the 100 mile run on August 27th, but it will give me perhaps a bigger test than any run I have done so far, with the exception of the brutal 50 Mile Zane Grey Course. Again this race will traverse some of the toughest mountains will an net elevation gain of 11,800 feet, snow, rocky trails and I am sure there will be some highs and lows. I will give the breakdown after I run it next weekend and let you know if the streak is intact and how I now feel about South Dakota.