What Does Too Much Rain Mean For Your Landscape?

Throughout much of the country, it has been a very wet summer and early fall. In the Washington DC metropolitan area alone, the combined July-August total of 14.56 inches ranks as the 10th-wettest such two-month stretch in D.C. history, and the wettest since 16.42 inches fell during these two months in 1969. September proved to be the fifth wettest September on record.

What does this mean for you garden plants and lawns? Plants and lawns love water, right? Well, yes, in the right quantity. Can too much rain have a negative effect on your landscape? Absolutely.

As with most things, too much of a good thing is simply too much of a good thing.

Fungal Issues

Water, gray skies and humid conditions are the perfect conditions for a variety of fungal issues effecting both ornamental plants and turf grass. Black Spot, Powdery Mildew and Dampening Off are some of the fungal problems being seen on ornamental plants. Red Thread and Dollar Spot are affecting turf grass.

Solution: Luckily, most fungal diseases are treatable with either organic applications or fungicides. Some fungal diseases even go away on their own as weather conditions improve.

Insects

Some pests seem to thrive in the rainy weather. Insects like mosquitoes breed when it’s wet. These troublesome pests need standing water to lay their eggs in, but it doesn’t take much at all to satisfy this need. After a rain, any standing water will do, puddles, flower pots, bird baths, and clogged gutters make great spots for eggs. The rain also encourages other pests to breed. Pests such as ticks and fleas thrive in warm, humid weather so they breed much quicker during rainy periods resulting in a population explosion.

Solution: Be sure to empty any container that has water sitting in it. Consider a service that applies mist to eradicate mosquitoes and ticks (hint: Allentuck Landscaping Co. has a fantastic  organic program for this).

Root Damage

Plant roots require air to survive and help the plant flourish. When there is too much water on and in the ground, plant and grass roots literally suffocate and rot. The result of this is that ornamental plants yellow, drop leaves, wither and die. Lawns will show spotty areas of dead grass.

Solution: There is no fix for this other than to wait for the ground to dry up, replace plants and re-seed dead areas of lawn.

Erosion

Water always runs downhill, and sometimes it takes soil with it. Not only has there been a lot of rain this summer, it has come in torrents. Rivers of water flowing through properties has been a common site. These rivers have washed away good soil and caused rutting. Whereas turf grass and groundcovers could be relied on to hold the soil, the excess water has weakened or killed these plants leaving nothing to counteract the water flows.

Solution: These areas can be re-established once the weather conditions change. Another solution is uses gravel area to allow the flow of water rather than fighting it. Also consider installing surface drains and taking downspout pipes underground to eliminate some surface water.

Long Term

With as much rain as we have had, the soil is going to take a while to dry out.  In many cases, it may take weeks or months to even recognize the damage too much water has done to landscape plants and lawns. Look for plant decline, slowed growth and yellowing foliage.

Every year has its weather challenges. Be it too much snow, too much heat, not enough rain or this year’s challenges. The landscape and lawn are part of nature and must contend with whatever is thrown at it. Occasionally, it just needs our help.

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