Well folks, after three weeks of snow, freezing rain and stupidly cold temperatures in the Clark County/Portland Oregon area, we seem to be returning to our normal winter conditions (cold rain and sporadic sun with early morning frost, so much better, right?!)

Of course, we’re not out of the woods yet. With Spring,still nearly two months away, there’s plenty of time for additional harsh winter conditions to wreak havoc in our landscapes. But, historically,prolonged winter events such as we have just experienced are quite rare. So,let’s cross our fingers and discuss what issues Tuff Turf applicators are seeing in our client’s landscapes.

As covered in my previous blog, snow mold, freeze damage and crane fly activity are all prevalent in turf now. Because the soil temperatures are still quite cold, active crane fly larvae damage is not being noted thus far, but make no mistake, those critters will get busy soon enough. Additional problems being seen are bent grass dormancy and, of course, damage to trees and shrubs from the snow, wind and freezing rain.

Let’s take a look at each of the issues individually. Please refer to the pictures above the description, in the order they are posted, for visual reference.

Snow Mold: As you can see, this damage presents as matted down, roughly circular patches in the turf. So far, we have not seen extensive damage around Vancouver, but it is present in many lawns. Of course, we haven’t been out to our more rural properties in Yacolt, Amboy, Washougal and Hokinson yet, where more extended periods of snow cover have been present, greatly increasing the odds of worse snow mold damage, so we’ll see what’s going on when we get there. Your applicator will note this damage for you during your regularly scheduled visit, and provide detailed instruction outlining what you can do to aid in your lawns recovery.

Freeze Damage: In turf, this damage presents as browning of the ends of the grass blades. It is unsightly, but not of particular concern as it will mow off, and does not cause long term damage. Freeze damage in evergreen trees and shrubs (see example above in rhododendron), the damage is obviously more long term due to the nature of the plant. This will usually require proper pruning to remove the damaged plant material. Give us a call for a prompt estimate.

Dormant Bent Grass: Bent grass is a native grass type, very common in our Northwest lawns, especially in older, more established turf sights. It is sensitive to drought stress and to freezing temperatures. As you can see from the photo, it turns brown when it goes dormant. It’s important to note, dormant is not dead!* Generally, proper fertilization helps improve the color, as does weather conditions conducive to its growth.

(*I have found the exception to this general rule to be,letting bent grass go through drought stress conditions during the summer, year after year, can cause extensive die-off.)

Freezing Rain: Ah, our least favorite of all the winter“wonders”. A lot of folks around here got hammered by this past ice storm. I-84 and Highway 14 closed in the Gorge, power lines down and power outages all over the place, countless fender benders (and worse), just a mess! And, of course, a lot of damage to various trees and shrubs. The sooner the damaged trees and shrubs are pruned and cleaned up the better. It not only improves the aesthetics of your landscape, it can help prevent or reduce further damage from any new storms. Just contact us and we’ll be out to provide a fair estimate for pruning and clean up.

Winter is still a long way from over, but hopefully we have turned the corner. The single most important thing you can do to help your lawn recover from this winter damage is to NOT skip an application. We are providing exactly what your lawn needs right now. Missing a scheduled application means another six to eight weeks before your lawn gets the nitrogen and nutrients it needs. It also means missing the opportunity to get the evaluation and input your applicator will provide during their visit.

Hang in there folks, soon enough we will be complaining about how hot it is and the seemingly never ending road repair!