We’ve still got another month to go before hurricane season is done. Most people think about the immediate impact of hurricanes, like damage to our homes, vehicles, and property. But when the floodwaters recede, yards that were once a lush green slice of paradise are wilted, malnourished, and crawling with pests. It’s devastating to see all the hard work demolished in the course of a few days. There is hope, however. By following these best practices for lawn maintenance following a hurricane or flood, you can get your yard back on track.
Debris could be organic things like fallen branches, twigs, or dead flowers. It could also be inorganic things like bits of housing, furniture, or anything that was washed into your yard. The sooner you can remove anything that doesn’t belong, the less damage it will cause. When debris sits on your lawn, it can suffocate grass. Anyone with an above-ground pool knows this. All that weight sitting on your grass will turn it brown or kill it outright, as you discover when you take the pool down at the end of the season. And it’s not only the weight of the debris that kills the grass. It can also block sunlight, which encourages lawn diseases and pest infestations. Lastly, if you live near the coast, any saltwater blown in during a hurricane can cling to debris and wind up in your yard.
When removing debris, always be sure to wear a thick pair of boots. It’s so easy for things like broken glass or other sharp objects to get washed into your yard. You should also take care to wear work gloves to protect your hands. Start with the largest objects and work your way down. When you think you’ve removed everything, give your lawn a good raking. This will help catch smaller pieces of debris that might have escaped your notice.
Under normal circumstances, you should avoid overwatering your lawn. Failing to do so can lead to all manner of diseases and pests like mildew, mold, fungus, fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. However, post-hurricane lawn care is a special circumstance. Our customers in Baton Rouge and northern Mississippi may not experience ocean water in their yards, but our New Orleans customers certainly can. If this applies to you, you should flush out all that excess sodium, so it doesn’t deposit in your soil. Too much sodium can change the pH level of your earth and affect how your lawn responds to fertilizers and absorbs nutrients. To get rid of ocean water, turn on the hose or sprinkler system and water your lawn frequently for a few days to clean out the upper layers of soil.
As mentioned previously, things like excess sodium can affect the chemical composition of your lawn. The only way to know for sure if your lawn’s pH has been altered is with a professional soil test. At TruGreen, we perform soil testing as part of our regular lawn care service. This gives us a detailed breakdown of the nutrients your lawn is lacking or has in abundance. It also alerts us to any contaminants in the earth, which is crucial to know if you do backyard vegetable gardening. By having a soil test done, we’ll be able to chart a course for fertilizing your lawn. That being said, we highly recommend delaying any fertilizer applications until you know for certain what you’re dealing with. Grass can be resilient, and it could recover without the help of extra fertilizer.
Remember how excess sodium is bad news for grass? Well, many fertilizers have a high sodium level. If you don’t get a soil test performed and instead go right to DIY fertilization, you could make things harder for your lawn’s recovery. Give your yard about a week and see where things stand. If it doesn’t seem to improve, call TruGreen.
All that excess moisture, and in some cases salt, most likely shocked your turfgrass’ root system. To help it recover, set your lawnmower height an inch or two higher than you normally would. While everyone loves the look of a properly cut lawn, temporarily letting your grass grow out will help it recover in the long run. If you’re not sure what the correct mowing height is, ask your TruGreen technician! We’re happy to show you the proper mowing height so you can give your lawn the best care possible.
Hurricanes and flooding aside, it’s highly advisable to aerate your lawn in the fall. Fall is when the thatch level in your lawn is at its thickest, and all that build-up will prevent floodwaters from draining. If you’re not familiar with the term, thatch is composed of organic matter, typically dead grass. It looks like straw, and while having some on your lawn is beneficial, too much is not good. It prevents water from draining into the soil and can create standing water pockets as well as run-off. As we’ll get to later, standing water in your lawn is an invitation to mosquitoes. To avoid dead grass and biting insects, you should get your lawn aerated. This process punches hundreds of tiny holes in your lawn to break up the thatch layer. It also allows oxygen, nutrients, and sunlight to reach the root zone as well.
Flower and bed maintenance after flooding is essential. If you notice dead or dying branches on trees or shrubs, be sure to trim them. Insects are attracted to unhealthy plants, so you can keep pests away by removing damaged branches and twigs. Another thing to consider is a dormant oil application. This is a plant-safe substance that will kill any insects already on your plants, as well as any future ones. Dormant oils can also protect your ornamental plants from powdery mildew and black sooty mold.
Mosquitoes are the most annoying bug not only because of their bites but also because they are incredibly adaptive. Female mosquitoes can use any source of still, standing water to lay their eggs. After a flood, it can take a while for standing water to recede, giving mosquitoes the chance to invade. You can preempt this problem with our mosquito control applications. Our technicians will evaluate your property and spray any area that could potentially become a problem. And if more rains arrive, you can rest assured. Once dry, our applications are rain-proof for several weeks.
When hurricanes leave your yard flooded, torn up, and destroyed, it can feel overwhelming. Thankfully, there’s no need to despair. If you live in the vicinity of Oxford, Tupelo, Baton Rouge, or New Orleans, the experts at TruGreen Midsouth can help you restore your lawn after flooding damage from hurricanes. Our lawn fertilization service will replenish nutrients flushed out of your soil, and our mosquito control services will ensure you don’t have a pest infestation on your hands. Let us put our expertise to work for you! Visit our website and get a free quote. Or give us a call. If you are located in Mississippi, you can reach us at 1-662-330-1330. For service in Louisiana, call us at 1-225-465-0665.
Be sure to check out our blog page, where we post twice a month and discuss all manner of yard care topics like selecting the perfect tree for your yard or controlling pesky insects. You can also connect with our offices in Louisiana and Mississippi to learn more about local deals and service offers.