Missouri drought taking toll on grass

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A hot, dry spring has led to drought conditions for much of Missouri, and lawns and grass are taking a beating.

St. Louis typically gets 4.7 inches of rain in May, but the metropolitan area received only 1.7 inches last month, making it the 15th driest May in 140 years of record-keeping by the National Weather Service, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/LgaaS7 ).

Meanwhile, the average temperature in St. Louis for the period of March 1 through May 31 was 64.8 degrees, beating the old mark of 61.5 degrees set in 1991.

The result is large swaths of what was soft green grass just a few weeks ago are now splotchy mixes of dirt.

“I’ve already gone into the summer watering pattern,” said Harold Mack of Webster Groves. “I hope it will do as well it can do with what I’m willing to give it.”

In Rock Hill, Jeff Riedel has been battling the dry spell while trying to get a new patch of grass to take in his front yard. It’s part of an effort to spruce up his home while working on a refinancing deal.

“I wanted to make sure it looked good for the appraisal,” Riedel said.

Those in the landscaping and lawn care business are busy trying to keep yards looking good.

Tim Jenkerson, an owner of St. Louis Lawn Care, said mowing crews this time of year typically need to hit a customer’s yard at least once a week to keep growth in check. Not this year.

“We’ve been doing some every other week. We usually don’t start that until late June or early July,” Jenkerson said.

The drought has left softball and baseball fields hard and dry. At Holy Reedemer School in Webster Groves, John Travers watched his first- and second-grade girls slug it out with Immacolata School on Holy Reedmer’s mostly brown-grass field.

“You get a month like this, and it’s just toast,” he said.

Tom Spriggs of the National Weather Service said there is hope for improvement. A dry May is sometimes followed by a wet June, he said.

“If we have a dry June, then I’d start to get worried,” Spriggs said.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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