Ridding yard of slime spots
Q. With all of the rain last year, we had lots of spots in the yard that were “slimed.” I feel like it never went away. What is this stuff? How do we get rid of it?
William from Greenford
A. Well, that slime that grew in gravel driveways and on lawns that never drained during the very wet 2018 growing season is actually notstoc balls (cyanobacteria).
If you’ve never seen it, it appears like thick, dark green streams of slime were tossed onto the ground. This most commonly occurs during periods of consistent moisture and in areas that have poor drainage.
According to our turf specialists at Ohio State University, this interesting phenomenon, “looks like a green rubbery bubbling mass on the soil surface that is caused by a bluegreen algae composed of moniliform cells imbedded in a gelatinous substance.”
It does not affect the grass and other plants in the area. It is a sign of poor drainage, but it also points out areas where grass and plants were not growing well in the first place.
There are no long-term chemical solutions to a problem such as this. Improving drainage or growing conditions are the ways to avoid the same problem next time.
With the excessive rainfall in 2018, we learned about the spots in our lawns that held the most moisture. Just think back to the areas where your shoes squished down into the soil and where the mower left tracks when you had no option but to mow while the sun was shining.
This coming spring will be time to correct those areas by improving drainage with tile or changing the flow of water across the lawn by constructing a swale.
Think of a swale as a very shallow ditch you never notice once you move the soil around and plant grass to restore the turf. It allows water to move along instead of pool in a location.
For lawns, another potential solution is improving the turf’s growing conditions. This includes reducing compaction with strategies such as aeration and improving soil conditions such as correcting the soil pH.
It also may mean changing the type of grass growing in the area with one that grows best in the amount of sunlight available there.
For gravel driveways, changing the level of the driveway to be higher in the center will improve runoff instead of allowing water to pool in the center.
To learn more about cyanobacteria, go to http://go.osu.edu/nostoc.
Eric Barrett is OSU Extension educator for agriculture and natural resources in Mahoning County. Winter hours for the Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic vary. Submit questions to the clinic at 330-533-5538 or drop samples off to the OSU Extension Office in Canfield.