Home & Garden

August 9, 2013

What’s all this slime?

It should come as no surprise that all the rain we’ve had would produce something slimy.

It should come as no surprise that all the rain we’ve had would produce something slimy.

“I was doing some much needed pruning of some bushes and I came across this!” Teresa Lee of Park City e-mailed me, along with a photo of some brown gelatinous growth on an old tree stump. “It scared me a little as I wasn’t expecting it, and honestly it’s a bit gross and slimy.”

Extension agent Bob Neier identified it as “a wood-rotting fungi that has emerged after the consistently wet conditions. ... It will help to rot away the old tree trunk, so is beneficial.”

That is good news. Just be careful when you’re out weeding – you are weeding, aren’t you? – so that you don’t get a shock.

You also may come across slime mold in your lawn or on mulch. Don’t read ahead if you’re worried about ruining your breakfast. The slime mold can show up in various lovely forms: looking like dog vomit, scrambled egg, yellow blob and regurgitated cat breakfast, Ward Upham of K-State said. It doesn’t do any harm, unless by covering grass blades it disrupts photosynthesis, Upham said. Use a broom or a heavy spray of water to dislodge the mold on a lawn, he advised, and use a shovel to get rid of slime mold on mulch, stirring up the mulch to aerate it.

Once slime mold has dried – if that ever happens in this weather pattern – it takes on a different appearance, and it can then be broken up with a rake and mowed over, extension agent Rebecca McMahon said.

Rainy mowing

If the rain has lessened the amount of time we need to spend watering, it has increased the time we need to spend mowing. Usually at this time of year, the lawn is not growing much because of a lack of rain, and we don’t have to mow as much. This year, the opposite is happening.

The most healthy way to mow grass is to do so when it’s time to remove one-third of the blade to get to these recommended mowing heights: 2.5 to 3.5 inches for tall fescue, 1 to 2 inches for Bermuda and zoysia, and 2 to 3 inches for buffalo. The mowing height is the height you want the grass to be after you have cut the grass. That makes Bermuda the easiest when it comes to the one-third rule: You cut it when it is 3 inches tall and mow it down to 2 inches. When it reaches 3 inches again, you repeat.

Mowing at the one-third point is healthy for grass, because it encourages lateral growth for a thicker lawn. It also produces short clippings that don’t need to be bagged but can be allowed to filter over the lawn as fertilizer.

When you can’t follow the one-third rule because of too much rain, you can mow the lawn and bag the clippings until you can get back to following the rule. Or you can raise the mower height as high as it will go and mow when you get a chance, then lower it a notch and mow again that day or the day after, repeating as necessary until you get back to the recommended height.

Bag the clippings anytime you’re removing more than one-third of the blade, because if you let long clippings fall back into the lawn rather than bagging them, they will clump up.

McMahon has one more piece of advice about the current weather pattern: “Turn your sprinkler system off. ... There are people who haven’t.”

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