Summer switches gears

07/27/2013 8:04 AM

07/27/2013 8:04 AM

Somebody pinch me.

All this rain in July. Surprise showers. Overcast days. Fluffy white clouds in the bright blue. Highs in the low 80s.

It doesn’t fit the mold of the summers we’re used to, or the summer we were preparing for, what with our reviews of how to water, threats by the city to fine high-water users, and minds trying to imagine what a drought-resistant landscape would look like.

Now, we’ve received literal pennies from heaven instead. It always amazes me that there’s no way we can control which way a season will go, wet or dry, and yet it makes such a difference for us:

• The overall landscape and the parks look lush and green (except for the dead branches sticking up out of trees because of previous drought damage, and limbs blown down from recent storms).
• We’re all saving money on water, and time spent watering.
• Weeding is not such a chore when sweat is not pouring off you, and the ground is moist for easy pulling.
• Life is just more mellow.

There are a few problems: Bagworms have been heavier this year than the last two, Cathy Brady of Brady Nursery says, and, with the rainy, humid weather, brown patch is starting to develop in lawns.

The key with brown patch is not to fertilize, extension agent Rebecca McMahon says. A couple of weeks ago, she was diagnosing brown areas in lawns caused not by fungus but by dryness. Sprinkler systems weren’t working on all cylinders.

But with brown patch, there is the opposite problem. We hope and assume that no one is running his sprinkler system now, but we can’t control the rain coming down, especially at night, and the humidity level, which leave little chance for lawns to dry out.

Fescue lawns shouldn’t be fertilized until September, which is the most important time of the year to fertilize. Many lawns will particularly need it this year, given that fertilizing had been discouraged in the spring for fear of another droughty summer when lawns wouldn’t get watered.

The damp conditions also have caused some yards to sprout mushrooms, a sign of decomposition underground, and nothing to be worried about.

The only thing I’m worrying about is too few days at the pool.

About Annie Calovich

Annie writes about home and garden, including her Bit of Earth column on Saturdays. She has been at The Eagle since 1985, working as a copy editor, a nation/world editor and a reporter. She’s a KU graduate who started out at The Coffeyville Journal.

Contact Annie at 316-268-6596 or acalovich@wichitaeagle.com

Follow Annie on Twitter: @AnnieCalovich

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