Spring has sprung! New life is teaming everywhere you look… except your lawn seems to have missed the memo and still looks a bit brown. Is it dead or still dormant? Before you start administering last rights, let’s take some vitals.
Dead and dormant grass look very similar: brown and lifeless. Their textures, however, are a bit different. Contrary to what you may think, if it feels crunchy beneath your feet, your lawn is still sleeping. If it feels spongy when you walk on it… well, it may be time to call the coroner.
But before you give up all hope, there is one quick test that will reveal if there is any life left—the tug test. Grab a hold of a patch of grass for a quick tug. If it gives any kind of resistance, its roots are still alive and hanging on. However, if it pulls out rather easily with its roots intact, time to call it… it’s dead.
Usually, entire lawns don’t die over the winter, unless it was an extremely harsh winter and you perhaps have a warm season grass. Or, there is a possibility you over fertilized, or applied too much weed killer last fall. More than likely, it’s still dormant. If it seems patchy, a little green with a little brown, there are a few things you can do to help green it up.
For starters, let’s have a little grass 101. The type of grass you have in your yard will be the main factor as to when you can expect to see a lush, green carpet. There are two types of grasses: cool season and warm season.
Cool season grasses, like Kentucky 31 or Rock Star Kentucky Bluegrass, thrive in cooler temperatures. However, a cool season grass may go dormant if the summer season runs high and dry. Warm season grasses tend to come in slower in the spring, as they thrive with the heat of summer. If, in the early spring, your lawn is still running in shades of beige when others seem to be thriving, you may have a variety such as Zenith Zoysia Grass.
If spring fever has hit and you want to work on your lawn, let’s start with weed control. As much as you would like to ignore them, they are contending for the water and nutrients your lawn needs. And unfortunately, when it comes to playing nice, they are a big bully that can take over the whole yard.
It’s best to put these guys in their place as soon as possible, especially if you plan on doing an all-over treatment for your yard. If you go this route, you need to allow at least three weeks before you do any seeding or lawn boosting. If the weeds aren’t too out of control, you can spot treat them. Or better yet, yank them out by the roots and send them packing.
Once you’ve taken care of the yard hoodlums, let’s take a closer look at some of those brown patches that are void of any green and failed the tug test. You’re going to want to do a little sleuthing here.
Is it dead around sidewalks and your driveway? More than likely, it’s salt damage from de-icers. You can try flushing the area with water if there seems to be a little life, but more than likely, you will need to dig the dead parts out. If you are patient, add some good quality soil and seed it. However, sod will establish a lot quicker and wear better if it’s a high traffic area.
Do the brown spots in your yard have any similar locations of Fido’s favorite spot to “visit”? Then more than likely, those brown spots are caused by an overload of nitrogen. Even though a yard needs nitrogen to thrive, the amount of nitrogen in dog urine is too much—especially if he’s been leaving his mark in the same spots all winter. Once you dig out the affected area, apply a little limestone before reseeding. Reseed or sod as described above.
If neither of the above are possibilities, then ask yourself, “Did something get spilled in that spot, like gasoline? Or could it be due to pests or some kind of fungus?”
If you think your brown patchy areas may have pests or disease, talk to your local lawn expert for different applications you can use. Or, better yet, hire lawn professionals to handle this one. If you know for sure what you are dealing with, by all means, go for it. On the other hand, if you’re taking a stab in the dark, save yourself the money and time of getting it wrong and let someone trained in this area take care of it.
Now that we have addressed those brownish beige spots, let’s talk about helping your lawn emerge from its winter coat. Put on your gardening gloves, grab a rake and get to it!
You don’t have to get overly aggressive with the rake, just use enough pressure to loosen up and remove the dead thatch, as well as last fall’s leaves and any debris left from the winter. This will open things up so air and water can move freely, encouraging new growth.
If your ground feels hard and compact, consider renting a core aerator. An aerator removes plugs intermittently from your yard. These holes allow water, nutrients and oxygen to penetrate the solid, promoting the health of your lawn.
Once your lawn is free of debris and breathing better, this is a great time to add fertilizer or a lawn booster. These come in liquid or granular options. As stated above, your yard loves nitrogen, and it needs nitrogen to be healthy and green.
Now is also a great time to broadcast seed to help thicken things up a bit. If you would like to see your lawn be a bit greener all season long, consider one of Missouri Southern’s Lawn Mixes. If you’re not too sure which grass seed would be best for your lawn, again, call the professionals. Give the team at Missouri Southern Seed a call today and let’s get that lawn green!