If Tom Jones wrote a song in southern Ontario this summer, he might have called it “The Brown, Brown Grass Of Home”.
Grass is one of the most hardy and resilient plant material there is. In periods of less rain, it looks dead, but really has just gone dormant; for the most part, anyway. So we finally get some rain, and your lawn is coming back. But maybe not the entire thing. What to do now for the dead patches?
Note: To determine if areas of your lawn are dormant or dead, take a look at the soil level. Lawns that have gone dormant will have brown leaves, while the crown at the base of the leaves will still be green, and the roots will have a healthy off-white color. If is lawn is completely dead, the entire plant—leaves, crowns, and roots—will be brown and brittle.
Deep, infrequent watering to the depth of the root system is the ideal situation, but you already knew that!
AFTER THE DROUGHT
Once the drought ends, most types of grass slowly recover on their own. You can help speed along the process with these four simple steps.
Water thoroughly. Soak your lawn to restore the soil’s moisture and to initiate new root growth. More so on slopes. Try to water in the early morning.
Fertilize. After about two weeks of watering, use a broadcast spreader to apply a balanced fertilizer with proportions as close as possible to 4-1-2 for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. (High-nitrogen fertilizers could hurt the lawn if extremely hot, dry weather returns.)
Address dead spots. Clear out any dead, matted turf and other debris. Loosen the soil. (At least scratch the surface, or better yet, dig and loosen the top 2 or 3 inches.) Scatter grass seed over the loosened soil. Fertilize. Water!!
If your lawn is still not greening up, there may be a more serious issues such as grub or Chinch Bug (that guy in the pic) infestation. Grubs will eat the roots of the grass and are found below in the soil. Chinch bug ( a very tiny beetle) attacks the crown and are found at the surface. Both can be a very serious pests and will need to be controlled before any topdressing and seeding is completed
- Mow lawns higher for the summer. A range of 2.5 to 3 inches would be suggested for most turf stands where Kentucky bluegrass is the primary species. As always, mowing should be on a frequent basis so that no more than one-third of the leaf blade is removed in any one cutting. Taller turf allows more shading of the soil, conserving what moisture is in the soil.
- Even if you start watering at the first signs of trouble, such as leaf wilt or tip browning, chances are that damage has already begun occurring to plant root systems. That’s why it’s best to water before plants “tell” you they need help.
From Sheridan’s Nurseries, a couple of helpful videos on Fall Lawns and Overseeding
https://youtu.be/-YozZxHgugs – (Fall Lawns)
https://youtu.be/IP8FUrOwrbc – (Overseeding)
From the CHMC website, an article on regular grass versus low-maintenance lawn material