Do April Showers Bring May Flowers?


George Latimer Apperson’s “Dictionary of Proverbs,” traces the phrase “April showers bring May flowers” to the late 1880s and may even go back to the early 15th century.

Weather forecasts based on weather wisdom in folklore are based on careful observations of nature and the skies and correlating those observations with weather events. Some sayings are grounded in atmospheric physics and some seem a bit silly.

In general, rain would have a positive effect on the abundance of flowers provided too much didn’t lead to flooding. A geographic region with a rainy season would certainly start plants to flower after a good soaking of the soil.

A long-term drought would have a negative impact on plants and when they flower. However, for most plants the first flowering is more tied to the temperature than to rain. The development of plants depends on the accumulation of heat.

There was a research study in 2013 that examined the first flowering time for 23 native species in Wisconsin based on flowering records initiated by Aldo Leopold in 1935. The scientists considered two time periods, 1935 to 1945 and 1977 to 2012. May 7 was the mean flowering date for the earlier period, while for the latter time period the mean flowering date was May 1.

This is consistent with the observations that the last frost has been occurring earlier in the year in Wisconsin. The change is not much for Dane County, but in northwestern Wisconsin, the last frost date now occurs about two weeks earlier than it did in 1950.

Should we change the saying to “Warm temperatures in March bring April flowers”? It doesn’t have the same ring to it as the current, and thus is not likely to endure. The revised saying may also not be true as many plants need a dormant period of colder temperatures to thrive.

by The Weather Guys at wxguys.ssec.wisc.edu/

Lawn and Turfgrass Facts & Stats

These turfgrass statistics may surprise you:

  • In a well maintained, thick 10,000 square foot (929 square meter) lawn there will be 6 turf plants per square inch (25.4 millimeters), 850 turf plants per square foot (30.45 square meters) for a total of 8.5 million turf plants.
  • Grass plants are 75 to 80% water, by weight.
  • Up to 90% of the weight of a grass plant is in its roots.
  • Clippings contain nutrients useable to the grass, when left on the lawn.
  • A lawn, 50 by 50 feet (15.24 by 15.24 meters) (2,500 square feet) (232 square meters) releases enough oxygen for a family of four, while absorbing carbon dioxide, ozone, hydrogen fluoride, and peroxyacetyl nitrate.
  • A dense, healthy lawn prevents run-off, absorbing rainfall six times more effectively than a wheat field and four times better than a hay field.
  • Turfgrass helps control pollution, trapping much of an estimated 12 million tons (10.9 million metric tons) of dust and dirt released annually into the US atmosphere.
  • The front lawns of eight average houses have the cooling effect of about 70 tons (68 metric tons) of air conditioning, while the average home-size central air has only a 3 to 4 ton capacity (2.7 to 3.9 metric tons).
  • As part of a well-designed and maintained landscape, turfgrass increases a home’s property value by 15 to 20 %.
  • Safety-sightlines discourage intruders and heighten visibility.
  • Absorbs noise and reduces glare.

This information provided by The Lawn Institute – www.TheLawnInstitute.org

photo by Jim Novak

Grass Roots

Healthy turfgrass has many miles of fibrous roots that hold soil and filter rainwater. (National Arboretum Grass Roots Project) A single grass plant can have more than 300 miles of roots.  The fibrous roots of a lawn may not look like they go very deep into the soil but because they are so thick and have so many fine root hairs they absorb a great deal of water. If all the fine hairs were untangled and put end to end they would stretch for miles. It’s this unique root system that minimizes storm water run off and minimizes erosion.   #LawnCareMonth

The Lawn Institute

The Benefits of Healthy Lawns and Landscapes

Healthy, well-managed lawns and landscapes are the root of happiness, providing a host of essential benefits for our families and our communities. For starters, they clean the air, provide a safe place where kids and pets can make memories playing outdoors, and protect us from disease-carrying insects. Our crews are trained in how to bring out these benefits and ensure the landscapes they care for continue to serve families, communities and the environment.  #LawnCareMonth

Mowing Basics

For low maintenance, little compares to live turfgrass. You mow more often, yet spend less time mowing than weeding or pruning.

Mowing is the most common cultural practice used on lawns around the world. It’s the most frequently repeated aspect of landscape care. Thus some think it takes more time than other outdoor tasks. Facts prove otherwise.

It takes just 30 minutes to mow the average home lawn. Average is 10,000 square feet (929 square meters) of turfgrass. You will spend only 11 hours annually when mowing once a week during a seven-month growing season using a 19-inch (48.26 cm), walk-behind rotary (or reel) mower.

Use a larger mower to further reduce mowing time. With a 60-inch (152.4 cm), commercial mower you can easily cut 30 square feet (2.787 square meters) a second. At even half that efficiency, and mowing 15 times a year, large areas require only one second per square foot (.093 square meters), per year.

Mowing Basics

Mowing is the periodic cutting of a turfgrass lawn to a specified height. The ability to tolerate mowing is one of the criteria that separate turfgrass from the rest of the grass species.

Mowing is always a stress on the grass plants. Just because they can tolerate mowing does not mean they like it. Reduce that stress by adopting these practices.

Mow early in the morning or, even better, in the evening. Mowing during the heat of the day can cause the plant to go into shock.

Mow when the grass is dry. Your mower will work better and there is less likelihood that disease will be spread from plant to plant.

Follow the one-third rule. Select a mowing height appropriate for the turfgrass species in your lawn. Then set your mower blade height of cut and mow frequently enough so you cut off no more than the top third of the grass plant. This will encourage stronger roots.

Cutting your lawn too short creates an environment for both weed and disease infestation. It also causes the lawn to lose moisture much quicker.

Keep your mower blades sharp. Sharp blades produce a clean, even cut. Unsharpened blades rip or tear the grass tissue. This often leaves a tan or brown cast to the lawn after mowing. The ripping or tearing can create a breeding ground for disease and other problems.

Leave your grass clippings on the lawn. This is called grasscycling, recycling, or mulching. Clippings are full of nutrients and can actually reduce your need for fertilizers by as much as 25%. Grass clippings readily break down and will only cause an issue if the quantity is excessive.

Mulching (recycling or grasscycling) mowers are great at making the clippings small enough to disperse into the grass canopy. But even standard discharge mowers will not cause a clipping problem if you follow the one-third rule. And, leaving the clippings on the lawn helps the environment by keeping clippings out of our community landfills!

Change directions each time you mow. Mowing causes the grass to lie over slightly. (That is how mowing patterns develop.) When you alternate directions with each mowing, the grass does not lie over excessively. Changing the pattern also reduces wear and compaction by changing the areas traveled.

This information provided by The Lawn Institute – www.TheLawnInstitute.org

Photo by Jim Novak

How to Get the Lawn of Your Dreams

Are you green with envy… of your neighbor’s lawn?  Rest assured, it didn’t get that way overnight. Having a beautiful, lush and weed-free lawn takes time.

Beautiful lawns share several of the same characteristics. They are mowed correctly and fertilizer and weed control have been applied at the appropriate times. A picture-perfect lawn also receives the right amount of moisture and is aerated annually to relieve soil compaction and give it a breath of fresh air.

Since all lawns eventually tire out, your neighbor’s envy-worthy lawn has likely been overseeded a few times – that is, has grass seed applied – and even had an unsightly bare spot or two thanks to visits from hungry rodents and other pests but those spots have long been patched.

Don’t fret if your neighbor won’t share secrets with you. Lawn care experts will gladly share their expertise and experience. They’ve been trained to identify and eradicate insects and diseases, install and maintain irrigation systems to ensure your lawn receives the moisture it needs and test your soil to determine what nutrients may be lacking.

They know when to mow and how much of the grass blade should be removed at one time, and they understand weed control. The best way to control weeds is to have a healthy, lush lawn, but getting there may require assistance from the application of pre- and post-emergent controls.

Healthy lawns often need some “little extras” to give them a boost. Aeration not only relieves compaction, but it opens up the soils’ pores so moisture and air easily reaches plant roots. Overseeding directly after aeration protects seeds and gives them a better opportunity to germinate.

If your neighbor has a mature lawn, there have likely been some other and possibly more dramatic moves to keep it beautiful. Landscapes evolve, meaning trees and shrubs grow. Lawn grass may now be competing with tall trees and sprawling shrubs for nutrients, water, and even sunshine.  This may require overseeding areas with a shade-tolerant grass, applying more fertilizer, or even reconfiguring the irrigation system to apply water in different.

The key to a beautiful is keeping it in balance with nature. This requires:

  • Mowing at the right time and right height with sharp blades.
  • Applying a fertilizer that supplies nutrients your lawn may be lacking.
  • Keeping weeds, insects, and diseases in check.
  • Aerating to allow air and moisture to penetrate the soil.
  • Overseeding to give tired lawns a boost and fill in bare areas.
  • Making sure your lawn evolves with your landscape.

If you’re dreaming about a beautiful lawn, but can’t seem to make it a reality, it may be time to bring in a pro. Lawn care experts have been known to turn dreams into reality on a daily basis.

loveyourlandscape.org