5 steps to bringing your lawn back to life

Barbecue season is a-coming, and you’ll want somewhere nice and green to serve and eat your burgers, but if your grass is lacking vibrancy, try these tips to give it a boost.

1. Scarify

Just as we exfoliate the skin to get rid of dead cells, your grass will also need some TLC to get rid of old dead grass, weeds, moss and fungi. You can use a spring-tine rake to scarify the lawn, to prepare it for reseeding.

2. Re-seed

Spring and autumn are the times when you can sow grass seed or re-turf any bare patches made by football playing etc. Sowing will take longer to see the results, but is a much cheaper option for bigger areas. You’ll need to water the existing lawn well before you sow and then don’t water again until the shoots appear, or you’ll wash the seed away.

Wait until it’s 5cm tall before mowing, which will help it to thicken out. Make sure no one treads on the grass while it’s growing!

3. Mow regularly

The more you mow, the quicker your grass will grow and recover, so mow at least one every two weeks in spring and once a week in summer. Make sure your mower blade isn’t set too low or the soil beneath will dry out too quickly, and dull mower blades will shred grass rather than cutting it, making it dry out at the tip. Collect all the grass cuttings and stick them on the compost heap.

4. Feed it

Nothing will bring your grass back to life like fertiliser, but make sure you do it once it’s growing and never on newly sown grass seed or turf, as it will go brown. As an alternative to chemical fertilisers, you can use liquid seaweed once a month throughout spring and summer.

5. Water

Just like the plants in your flower beds, your lawn will need watering over the summer months to make sure it stays green. Hosepipe bans aside, you should be able to water it anywhere between once a week to monthly, depending on the type of lawn.

However, having wet grass at night could cause disease, so make sure you use your sprinkler between early morning and early afternoon, to allow it time to dry. Don’t overwater.

As the heat sets in, grass will turn brown in color. This is how the plants respond to stress caused by extreme heat, especially during the summer. Even if your grass is meant for a warm climate, it can still turn brown for several weeks.

Although your lawn may appear lifeless, it doesn’t mean the grass is dead. It is only conserving resources until temperatures improve. Seasonal dormancy is actually normal for both cool and warm-climate grass, so you needn’t say bye-bye to your grass just yet.

How to determine if your grass is dormant or dead

One way to tell whether your turf is dormant or dead is to tug on the grass plants. If you can pull out the grass from the ground easily, then it is probably dead. However, if the roots hold fast when you pull them, the grass is only dormant.

Once you start watering your grass or when rain returns, you will see the difference in your turf as moisture will gradually bring back its lush green color. On the other hand, if the grass plants are already dead, they will remain brown in color even if you water them or it rains.

The best way to ensure that your turf bounces back successfully from a period of dormancy is through continuous care.

Steps to Revive Grass

Whether barbecue season is coming or you simply want a beautiful outdoor place to relax, a turf lacking in vibrancy will definitely affect the look of your landscape. Follow these steps from a professional lawn care service in Binghamton, New York to help bring back your lawn’s former glory.

1. Remove rubbish

Similar to how you exfoliate your skin to remove dead cells, grass will also need some tender love and care to dispose of dead grass, fungi, moss, and weeds. Use a spring tine rake to rid the lawn of rubbish and prepare it for reseeding.

2. Weed out problems

To make sure the grass gets the necessary nutrients to thrive, you will need to get rid of weeds. You wouldn’t want to feed the weeds as you feed the grass as the former can end up overpowering the latter. As much as possible, remove weeds by hand so that you don’t damage your turf.

3. Reseed the lawn

The best time to reseed or sow grass seed on bare patches caused by high traffic is during spring and autumn. For bigger lawns, sowing is a more cost-effective option but may take longer for results to be observable. Before you start sowing, make sure you water the turf first. Don’t water it again until you start to see shoots so you can avoid accidentally wash away the seeds.

Make sure that no one steps on the newly planted grass while it’s growing.

4. Mow frequently

The more you mow, the faster it will be for your grass to grow and recover. Mow at least once a week during the summer and once every two weeks in spring. When mowing a reseeded lawn, wait until it’s five centimeters tall to help it thicken out.

Make certain that your mower blades aren’t set too low as the soil beneath will dry out quickly. Rather than cutting, dull mower blades will shred grass which will then make it dry out at the tip. Don’t throw out grass cuttings; instead, keep them on the compost heap.

5. Feed grass with fertilizer

Whether granules or liquid, good fertilizer can have a significant impact on the health of your lawn. A fertilizer will bring your grass back to life, but make sure you do it only once when the grass is growing and not on newly-sown turf as it will turn brown.

6. Water deeply

A lawn needs infrequent but deep watering once a week for about 20 to 30 minutes. Watering before the grass turns dormant in the summer will encourage it to develop deep roots, giving the grass better access to moisture in the soil.

Take note that wet grass at night may be prone to diseases such as fungi. If you’re using a sprinkler, make sure that it runs only between early morning and early afternoon to allow the grass to dry. It is recommended that you water your lawn early in the morning between six and 10 am when there’s less wind and temperatures are low.

Keep up with lawn maintenance

Taking care of your lawn doesn’t stop the moment you’ve successfully brought your dying grass back to life. You still need to continue landscape maintenance to keep your outdoor space in the best condition.

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During a dry season, many lawns will show initial symptoms of drought stress, Aaron Patton said. As grass loses water, its leaves become less rigid and wilt; in this stage, grass stays flat after it is stepped on rather than “bouncing back.”

The most telltale signs of drought stress, however, are the crunchy tan or brown leaves of grass that has entered dormancy; the plant is still alive, but the leaves dry up and die. This helps the plant conserve water and survive a drought.

Drought stress is most noticeable on slopes and lawns established on shallow or poor soil, Patton said.

“In order to keep your lawn green during hot and dry periods, at least 1 inch of water will need to be applied weekly,” Patton said. “However, you can keep your lawn alive with far less water.”

Homeowners can water regularly enough to avoid drought stress altogether, or they can let their lawn go dormant and water only occasionally to help it survive.

Some of the advantages and disadvantages of each option:

Watering to keep lawn green

“Water turf two to three times weekly – deeply, a good soaking, so you don’t have to water daily,” Patton said. Watering in the early-morning hours is most effective; watering in the evening could encourage disease or pests.

* Advantages: Turf will stay green, aesthetically pleasing and actively growing; ground remains soft so it can be used for recreation; deep soaking will foster deep roots, which will help plants better survive a prolonged drought.

* Disadvantages: Higher water bill for those with city water; some increased risk of turf disease.

Letting turf go dormant

“Once the lawn turns brown and goes dormant, we can’t tell if a lawn is dying unless we water and wait to see the response,” Patton said. “That is why we advise to water once every two weeks with one-half inch of water once the turf goes dormant to keep plant crowns hydrated during drought. This amount of water will not green up the turf, but it will increase long-term survival during long dry spells.”

* Advantages: Avoid irrigation costs; most turf species are drought-tolerant and will survive typical Indiana droughts.

* Disadvantages: Difficult to tell when turf is getting too dry and needs water to stay alive; lawn is brown and has poor aesthetics; hard soil makes turf less usable for recreation; turf is more susceptible to injury and will not recover until rain returns; some thinning and turf death can occur if there is no rain for 4-6 weeks and no irrigation is applied.

Patton emphasized that when lawns are dry, it is important to stay off them. Mowers and other heavy equipment can cause substantial damage to vulnerable, stressed grass. Once rains return, the turf will begin to recover and grow new leaves within two weeks.

For more information about keeping lawns healthy during the drought, visit https://purdueturftips.blogspot.com/
Writer: Jessica Merzdorf, 765-494-8402, [email protected]

Source: Aaron Patton, 765-494-9737, [email protected]

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson, [email protected]
Agriculture News Page

If you want the best,It must be Munns.

Many grasses across Australia will suffer from drought or water restrictions at one stage or another. That’s why we have put together a few preparation tips to help you keep watering to a minimum.

Use wetting agents

Wetting agents are a great tool for water conservation and can be applied to new and existing lawns. Specifically, they are a type of detergent that attract water to the soil particles and are particularily useful in sandy soils especially after dry periods, but can be used on any soil to help water retention.

Munns have addressed this by including Munns Weta-Lawn and Garden (wetting agent) to their lawn seed mixes. You can also apply Munns Weta-Lawn and Garden to your existing lawn.

Monitor your mowing height

During long, dry periods when water is scarce, regardless of your lawn type, you should aim to keep it on the longer side. This not only reduces stress on the lawn, but also gives more shade to the soil beneath the lawn, in turn helping the water retention.

Adhere to water restrictions

As always through a drought, water restictions can affect many regions at various times. Please ensure you are adhering to the correct restrictions in your council area. See the water restrictions in your area here.

A tip – if water restrictions allow, morning watering is better than night due to prolonged periods of leaf wetness being a significant contributor to disease development.

wayne’s eye view/Flickr The long, hot summer of 2012 has created some of the worst drought conditions in recorded history, leaving homeowners across much of the country with parched, brown lawns. The good news is that despite their delicate structure and appearance, grasses are surprisingly resilient. Most types of grass can survive extended periods of drought, and although they may look dead—visibly brown, dry and limp—they’re often only dormant, awaiting the next rainstorm.

To determine if a lawn is dormant or dead, inspect it down at the soil level. Lawns that have gone dormant will have brown leaves, but 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.

If the lawn is in fact dead, your only options are to either reseed or lay sod. But barring that fate, you can help save your troubled or dormant lawn, though it won’t be easy.

To Water, or Not to Water

The best way to protect your lawn during a drought, of course, is to simply water the grass on a regular basis. Unfortunately, that’s not always an option. Most towns institute water restrictions during a drought, making it illegal to water your lawn. And if your home draws water from a deep well, the underground water table will be much lower than normal, and the well won’t be able to supply enough water for both domestic use and lawn irrigation.

Even if you can legally water your lawn (for now), it might not be the best idea. According to the Lawn Institute, a nonprofit lawn-research corporation, it’s better to halt irrigation at the beginning of a drought than to water a lawn for a short period of time and then stop. A brown, dormant lawn may actually be in better condition to survive a drought than a lawn that was occasionally watered.

So let’s assume that—like most folks—you can’t water during a drought, or you fear your town might put such restrictions in place. Now what?

During the Drought

1 De-thatch. To help your lawn absorb what little moisture is available, use a de-thatcher. Thatch is simply an overaccumulation of dead organic lawn matter, such as grass clippings and shredded leaves. Removing thatch is important any time of the year but especially during a drought.

2 Aerate. Use a manual (or, better yet, power) aerator to punch holes in the lawn. The holes will deliver any moisture directly to the lawn’s root system.

3 Keep on mowing. Grass will eventually stop growing during a drought, but mow as often as necessary, never removing more than one-third of the grass blades. Sharpen your mower blades at least twice during the mowing season. Dull blades tend to rip the grass, leaving jagged edges that quickly dry out and turn brown.

4 But don’t bag clippings. Leaving grass clippings on the lawn after a mowing or two can provide much needed moisture. Just don’t let them get too thick or clump together in mats, or they’ll suffocate the lawn (see tip No. 1).

5 Stay off the lawn. Eliminate as much traffic on the lawn as possible, including foot traffic and lawn equipment. The weight of all this activity will compact the soil, making it more difficult for the lawn to absorb moisture.

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.

1 Water thoroughly. The obvious first step. Once water restrictions are lifted, soak the lawn to restore the soil’s moisture and to initiate new root growth. It’s especially important to water grass that’s growing on tops of hills where the wind can dry out the lawn, and on sloped areas where water tends to run off before it can soak in. Water in the early morning before the sun gets high in the sky and starts evaporating the moisture.

2 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.)

3 Kill weeds. Once the grass is growing strong, treat individual weeds—not the entire lawn—with an herbicide. By eliminating weeds, there will be more moisture and nutrients available for the grass. And as the lawn thickens, it’ll eventually crowd out the weeds on its own.

4 Return to routine maintenance. Resume your regular lawn-maintenance schedule, which should include consistent watering, mowing, thatch removal, and aeration.

Drought

Nearly every part of our country experiences periods of reduced rainfall. If we plan for drought, then we can enjoy the benefits of normal or rainy years and not get caught unprepared in dry years.

Before a Drought

Strategies for drought preparedness focus mainly on water conservation. Make these practices a part of your daily life and help preserve this essential resource.

Indoor Water Conservation Tips Prior to a Drought

GENERAL

  • Never pour water down the drain when there may be another use for it. For example, use it to water your indoor plants or garden.
  • Repair dripping faucets by replacing washers. One drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons of water per year.
  • Check all plumbing for leaks and have any leaks repaired by a plumber.
  • Retrofit all household faucets by installing aerators with flow restrictors.
  • Install an instant hot water heater on your sink.
  • Insulate your water pipes to reduce heat loss and prevent them from breaking.
  • Install a water-softening system only when the minerals in the water would damage your pipes. Turn the softener off while on vacation.
  • Choose appliances that are more energy and water efficient.

BATHROOM

  • Consider purchasing a low-volume toilet that uses less than half the water of older models. Note: In many areas, low-volume units are required by law.
  • Install a toilet displacement device to cut down on the amount of water needed to flush. Place a one-gallon plastic jug of water into the tank to displace toilet flow (do not use a brick, it may dissolve and loose pieces may cause damage to the internal parts). Be sure installation does not interfere with the operating parts.
  • Replace your showerhead with an ultra-low-flow version.

KITCHEN

  • Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing of food waste or simply dispose of food in the garbage. (Kitchen sink disposals require a lot of water to operate properly).

Outdoor Water Conservation Tips Prior to a Drought

GENERAL

  • Check your well pump periodically. If the automatic pump turns on and off while water is not being used, you have a leak.
  • Plant native and/or drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs, and trees. Once established, plants adapted to your local climate do not need water as frequently and usually will survive a dry period without watering. Small plants require less water to become established. Group plants together based on similar water needs.
  • Install irrigation devices that are the most water efficient for each use, such as micro and drip irrigation, and soaker hoses.
  • Use mulch to retain moisture in the soil. Mulch also helps control weeds that compete with landscape plants for water.
  • Avoid purchasing recreational water toys that require a constant stream of water.
  • Avoid installing ornamental water features (such as fountains) unless they use re-circulated water.
  • Consider rainwater harvesting where practical.
  • Contact your local water provider for information and assistance.

LAWN CARE

  • Position sprinklers so water lands on the lawn and shrubs and not on paved areas.
  • Repair sprinklers that spray a fine mist. Most misting issues result from a pressure problem, properly regulating pressure in an irrigation system will prevent misting.
  • Check sprinkler systems and timing devices regularly to be sure they operate properly.
  • Raise the lawn mower blade to at least three inches or to its highest level. A higher cut encourages grass roots to grow deeper, shades the root system, and holds soil moisture.
  • Plant drought-resistant lawn seed. Reduce or eliminate lawn areas that are not used frequently.
  • Avoid over-fertilizing your lawn. Applying fertilizer increases the need for water. Apply fertilizers that contain slow-release, water-insoluble forms of nitrogen.
  • Choose a water-efficient irrigation system such as drip irrigation for your trees, shrubs, and flowers.
  • Turn irrigation down in fall and off in winter. Water manually in winter only if needed.
  • Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants to reduce evaporation and keep the soil cool. Organic mulch also improves the soil and prevents weeds.
  • Invest in a weather-based irrigation controller—or a smart controller. These devices will automatically adjust the watering time and frequency based on soil moisture, rain, wind, and evaporation and transpiration rates. Check with your local water agency to see if there is a rebate available for the purchase of a smart controller.

POOL

  • Install a new water-saving pool filter. A single back flushing with a traditional filter uses 180 to 250 gallons of water.
  • Cover pools and spas to reduce evaporation of water.

During a Drought

Always observe state and local restrictions on water use during a drought. If restricted, for example, do not water your lawn, wash your car, or other non-essential uses, to help ensure there is enough water for essential uses. Contact your state or local government for current information and suggestions.

Indoor Water Conservation Tips While in a Drought

BATHROOM

  • Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects, and other similar waste in the trash rather than the toilet.
  • Avoid taking baths—take short showers—turn on water only to get wet and lather and then again to rinse off.
  • Avoid letting the water run while brushing your teeth, washing your face or shaving.
  • Place a bucket in the shower to catch excess water for watering plants.

KITCHEN

  • Operate automatic dishwashers only when they are fully loaded. Use the “light wash” feature, if available, to use less water.
  • Hand wash dishes by filling two containers—one with soapy water and the other with rinse water containing a small amount of chlorine bleach.
  • Clean vegetables in a pan filled with water rather than running water from the tap.
  • Store drinking water in the refrigerator. Do not let the tap run while you are waiting for water to cool.
  • Avoid wasting water waiting for it to get hot. Capture it for other uses such as plant watering or heat it on the stove or in a microwave.
  • Avoid rinsing dishes before placing them in the dishwasher; just remove large particles of food. (Most dishwashers can clean soiled dishes very well, so dishes do not have to be rinsed before washing)
  • Avoid using running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator or use the defrost setting on your microwave oven.

LAUNDRY

  • Operate automatic clothes washers only when they are fully loaded or set the water level for the size of your load.

Outdoor Water Conservation Tips While in a Drought

CAR WASHING

  • Use a commercial car wash that recycles water.
  • If you wash your own car, use a shut-off nozzle that can be adjusted down to a fine spray on your hose.

LAWN CARE

  • Avoid over watering your lawn and water only when needed:
  • A heavy rain eliminates the need for watering for up to two weeks. Most of the year, lawns only need one inch of water per week.
  • Check the soil moisture levels with a soil probe, spade or large screwdriver. You don’t need to water if the soil is still moist. If your grass springs back when you step on it, it doesn’t need water yet.
  • If your lawn does require watering, do so early in the morning or later in the evening, when temperatures are cooler.
  • Check your sprinkler system frequently and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.
  • Water in several short sessions rather than one long one, in order for your lawn to better absorb moisture and avoid runoff.
  • Use a broom or blower instead of a hose to clean leaves and other debris from your driveway or sidewalk.
  • Avoid leaving sprinklers or hoses unattended. A garden hose can pour out 600 gallons or more in only a few hours.
  • In extreme drought, allow lawns to die in favor of preserving trees and large shrubs.

Associated Content

  • American Red Cross (link)
  • National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) (link)
  • US Drought Monitor (link)
  • US Economic Costs of Drought (link)
  • National Drought Mitigation Center (link)
  • US Environmental Protection Agency (link)

What it takes to recover from drought

Drought-stricken areas anxiously await the arrival of rain. Full recovery of the ecosystem, however, can extend long past the first rain drops on thirsty ground.

According to a study published August 10 in Nature, the length of drought recovery depends on several factors, including the region of the world and the post-drought weather conditions. The authors, including William Anderegg of the University of Utah, warn that more frequent droughts in the future may not allow time for ecosystems to fully recover before the next drought hits.

Find a video abstract of this study here. The study was funded by the National Science Foundation and by NASA.

PHOTO CREDIT: U.S. Drought Monitor

Drought conditions in California between November 2015 and March 2016.

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When things dry up

Droughts can be defined in several ways. The first is meteorological, defined as a period of less than average precipitation. The second is agricultural, in which the lack of rainfall impairs the productivity of plants. The third is hydrological, when water sources such as lakes, reservoirs, and aquifers begin to dry up to below-average conditions.

Anderegg and colleagues’ new study asks the question: What does recovery from all three of these types of drought look like in different parts of the world? “There was a broad presumption that ecosystems and plants recovered almost immediately when the weather got wetter,” Anderegg says. “We didn’t know what the patterns were globally, including which plants seemed to recover faster or slower and which variables influenced that recovery time.”

PHOTO CREDIT: William Anderegg

Trees killed by drought in the American Southwest during the 2000s.

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The measure they used to evaluate drought conditions is called the Standardized Precipitation-Evaporation Index. It’s an approximation that takes into account temperature, soil moisture, recent rainfall and plants’ demand for water. To assess drought recovery times, the team evaluated global satellite data to measure gross primary productivity, a measure of the rates at which plants convert sunlight into biomass. Drought recovery, they said, means an ecosystem fully recovers to its pre-drought productivity.

Plants can suffer long-term, even permanent damage from droughts. “Plants can be irreversibly damaged during drought stress,” Anderegg says. “They can lose part of their water transport systems, and that damage can take years to recover.” Droughts can also bring on more severe vegetation impacts like disease and fire. “That’s an amplifier that can last past the drought.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Christopher Schwalm

Spatial pattern of drought recovery time. White areas are water, barren, or did not experience any relevant drought events.

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How ecosystems recover

They found that the post-drought climate conditions were the most influential factors in drought recovery time. Wet conditions, such as those that slammed California after its long drought, hastened recovery. Dry conditions and temperature extremes, lengthened recovery. However, Anderegg says, “there are likely to be places in California where the drought was so severe that the ecosystem will not recover to the previous level because so much of the vegetation has died.”

Location mattered as well. In general, most areas of the world are able to recover from a drought in less than six months. Some areas need up to a year. But the high-latitude Arctic regions and the tropics of South America and Southeast Asia need more time – up to two years. “That’s worrisome because those regions store the largest chunks of carbon in ecosystems across the globe,” Anderegg says.

Trees killed by drought in the American Southwest during the 2000s.

The double whammy

With climate models forecasting that the extent and severity of drought is likely to increase, also increasing the likelihood that ecosystems may be hit with new droughts before they have recovered from the previous one. “That could have a double whammy effect,” Anderegg says. “A second drought could be harder on an ecosystem and have the potential to push it off a cliff.” Ecosystem collapse in the face of perpetual drought could change verdant forests into grass and shrubs.

Such a double whammy hit the Amazon rainforest in 2005 and 2010, when back-to-back droughts, each with a once-in-a-century severity, hit the region. “Satellites showed that forests hadn’t recovered from the 2005 drought by the time the 2010 drought struck,” Anderegg says.

The study underscores the importance of drought recovery time in assessing drought impacts on ecosystems. Rain brings relief, but doesn’t solve drought-related problems immediately, Anderegg says. “Often recovery is longer than the drought itself.”

After publication, the full study can be found here.

While all attention is on surviving the current drought, it is vital to plan for once it breaks. This is as vital as dealing with current issues and will impact greatly on future farm profitability and management. No two farms will have the same post drought strategy but the following is an example of issues likely to need addressing.

For many mixed cropping/livestock properties, where massive destocking has/is occurring, full restocking may be very difficult and/or extremely expensive. A major option is to assess diverting significant extra area to cropping for the next winter crop.

An enormous amount of research applicable to most cropping areas of Australia is the need to conserve soil moisture in the fallow prior to crop sowing. Therefore, the need to choose paddocks for cropping now to ensure fallows start conserving moisture.

While zero till is a good option for fallow management with timely herbicide application, the exception may be if there is low soil plant cover, especially in harder setting soils. A cultivation can improve infiltration of rain by breaking crusts and creating roughness. In these conditions, the best bet may be to get a crop or pasture growing to protect soil from wind and water erosion.

Many farmers are contemplating summer crops for grain. Generally these are mainly only a good option if sub soil moisture levels are good. A wet spring can completely alter soil water levels for summer cropping (later sowing feasible) but a dry spring may well see many paddocks best left for next seasons winter cropping. Summer cropping also need to assess implications on planned rotations.

Summer fodder cropping on overgrazed pastures may be a useful option as perennial plants (native or introduced) can be slow to recover. Perennial native and introduced tropical plants can recover quickly if reasonable levels of dry-matter were retained and plants were previously well managed.

Note some summer crops, like Japanese millets (Echinochloa esculenta) and maize, can be established in relatively cools soils (12C – 9am reading) while most sorghum x sudan hybrids prefer warmer soils (around 16C). Cowpeas are even more sensitive to cool soils. If soil temperature is too cool, germination is slow and crops are more vulnerable to pests and weeds.

While two consecutive winter droughts have occurred in many areas, weeds like barley grass, annual ryegrass, brome grass and black oats can still be a big threat. Diseases like crown rot and take all in wheat and barley can be a major risk.

If paddocks are to be converted from long term pastures to cropping because of lack of stock numbers, crop species and variety choice will be important considerations. In many areas seed for next seasons crops may also be scarce. A good guide to varieties best suited to a given situation is the NSW DPI Winter Crop Variety sowing guide. Choosing varieties with sowing time flexibility, as well as suited to soil features like acidity is sensible. For assured seed supply my suggestion is – order now.

Soil fertility can be enhanced for some nutrients after drought. Soil sulphur levels for example can rise significantly in pasture paddocks with existing sulphur becoming more available. Nitrogen can have a similar post drought flush, but not phosphorus.

For the longer term, planning towards long lasting perennial pastures that are capable of surviving hard droughts are worth considering. For example, tropical perennial grasses can survive long-term in environments with average annual rainfall as low as 400mm (or lower). Finally, like all of agriculture there are no “magic bullets” for quick recovery. Make sure there is good science behind any recommendations.

Next week: Update on more winter crop varieties for 2019.

Brown Lawn Care: Reasons For Dying Grass And How To Treat

If you’re wondering about reasons for dying grass and how to revive a dead lawn, there are numerous possible causes and no easy answers. The first step to brown lawn care is figuring out why it happens in most cases.

Reasons for Dying Grass

So can a brown lawn be saved? Depending on your particular circumstances, generally, yes. That being said, you should try and pinpoint what is causing the browning in the first place.

Drought: This a big problem across much of the country these days, and drought is one of the primary reasons for dying grass. Many people opt not to water their lawns during the summer, but this may be a mistake when there isn’t enough rain to keep the roots alive. Grass naturally goes dormant after two to three weeks without water, and most lawns can tolerate drought for four to six weeks, although it will turn brown. However, extended periods of hot, dry weather may kill the lawn.

How to revive a dead lawn? Bad news: If the grass is totally dead due to drought, there’s no way to bring it back. However, reviving brown lawns that are simply dormant usually occurs within three to four weeks of regular irrigation.

Thatch: If your lawn turns brown in spots when summer rolls around, you may have a problem with thatch – a thick layer of decomposed plant matter, roots and partially decomposed stems that builds up under the roots. Thatch usually isn’t caused by clippings, which decompose quickly and add healthy nutrients to your lawn.

To determine if you have too much thatch, dig a 2-inch deep chunk of grass. A healthy lawn will have about ¾-inch of brown, spongy thatch between the green grass and the surface of the soil. Read more about controlling thatch here: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/lawn-care/lgen/lawn-thatch-control.htm

Improper Mowing: Mowing the lawn too short can stress the grass and cause it to turn dry and brown. As a general rule of thumb, remove no more than one-third the height at each mowing. Although a length of 2 ½ inches is okay, 3 inches is healthier during summer heat. Mow regularly and don’t allow the grass to become too long.

Improper Watering: Water your lawn deeply about once a week, or when the grass looks slightly wilted, providing about an inch of water each time. Avoid frequent, shallow irrigation which results in weak roots that can’t tolerate summer heat. Don’t water if the lawn doesn’t need it.

Insects: If your lawn is brown, pull up a small area of turf. Pest-infested grass pulls up easily because the roots are damaged. Pests tend to invade overly watered, excessively fertilized lawns or neglected lawns. Keep your lawn healthy, but don’t pamper it. Grubs are the most prevalent lawn pest. Read more about grubs here: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/pests/insects/get-rid-of-grub-worms.htm

Salt damage: Salt damage may be the reason if the brown lawn is adjacent to a street, driveway or sidewalk. A good soaking should help dilute the saline concentration, but you may have to reseed the lawn if the damage is too severe.

Pet spots: If your brown grass is limited to small areas, a dog may be going potty on your lawn. Water the grass thoroughly to bring it back to health and teach your puppy to relieve himself in a better spot.

Fungus: Sporadic brown spots in the lawn could be the result of a fungus. There are many types of fungi that can affect lawns, the most common of which can be found here: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/lawn-care/lgen/grass-fungus.htm

Now that you know some of the reasons for dying grass, you can better equip yourself in managing the problem. Healthy lawns have fewer issues. For general information about lawn maintenance, visit https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/lawn-care/lgen/tips-for-improving-the-lawn-and-reducing-maintenance.htm.

Solved! What to Do About Brown Grass

Don’t let your lawn be grub for grubs. Grubs, the larvae of beetles, spend their summers feeding on the roots of turf grass—and as the grass decays, brown areas emerge. To determine if this is a problem, simply dig into one of the brown patches and look for milk-white creatures curled up into a C-shape. If you spot 10 or more of these grubs per square foot of sod, a grub infestation is the likely culprit of your lawn’s brown patches. To be rid of the pests, apply either a chemical like carbaryl or natural grub control like nematodes (roundworms) over the lawn. In two to three weeks, new green shoots should start to emerge.

Have pets do their business elsewhere. You love your furry friends, but canine and feline urine contains salts that can kill grass and leave behind round, brown dead patches that aren’t likely to go green on their own. Revive dead turf by covering it with a layer of ground limestone (2 to 5 pounds per 100 square feet) to restore the soil’s pH balance, then let the limestone sit for a week before covering it with topsoil and planting new grass seeds. In the future, you can replace an area of your lawn with mulch and let your pets “go” there—or better yet take them for walks!

Drought Tolerant Lawn Grass: Is There A Drought Tolerant Grass For Lawns

Water conservation is the responsibility of every citizen, not just in areas with drought or low moisture conditions. Turf lawns are one of the main water-sucking plants in the garden. That green expanse of lawn requires regular moisture, especially in the dry season. Drought resistant grass is an option, but there is no truly drought tolerant grass for lawns. You can make a selection that requires less water than other species or you can choose to use a substitute for grass such as a ground cover, moss or even stepping stones.

Drought Tolerant Grass Varieties

Finding a drought resistant grass type is not as difficult as it used to be. Tighter water restrictions in moisture deficient municipalities have made using drought tolerant lawn grass or alternatives to turf lawns a priority. Fortunately, breeding and technology have come to our rescue and you can now install a lawn that requires less than one quarter of a traditional turf grasses water needs.

Sod selection isn’t only dependent upon water needs. You also need to take into consideration your soil conditions, lighting, use and maintenance issues, and even the visual appearance you require. The local weather conditions are also a consideration. There are cool-season and warm-season grasses, with warm-season varieties more suited to the south and cool types used in the north.

Kentucky bluegrass is a good choice in areas with hot summers and cold winters. It has all around tolerance and produces well even in poor soil with minimal moisture. Tall fescue is a very common wild grass that has been used as turf grass. It responds well to mowing, tolerates shade, develops a deep root system in prepared soil and can handle foot traffic.

A University of California ranking shows the most drought tolerant grass for lawns is hybrid Bermuda grass and then in order:

  • Zoysia grass
  • Common Bermuda grass
  • Seashore paspalum
  • St. Augustine grass
  • Kikuyu grass
  • Tall and Red fescues
  • Kentucky Bluegrass
  • Ryegrass
  • Several Bentgrass species
  • Buffalo grass

Drought Tolerant Grass Alternatives

Even the most drought tolerant grass varieties will still need some water to keep it healthy or the grass will lose vigor and leave it open to weeds, insects and diseases. Drought tolerant grass alternatives are another way to reduce water consumption while still getting a beautiful green ground cover.

  • Moss – In shady areas, moss is an effective ground cover. It will turn brown in extremely hot weather, but it persists in most cases and renews in fall or when rains return.
  • Sedum – Succulents, such as low growing sedum, are perfect as ground cover and require little moisture. They are not at all tolerant of heavy foot traffic but the use of some pavers should help take care of that.
  • Thyme – Thyme is a water miser that thrives in bright, dry, sunny conditions. Once it takes off, the plant will create a tight network of color. The best thing about thyme is the variety of colors and variegation, plus the added bonus of flowers.

Other excellent lawn alternatives include:

  • Green Carpet Rupturewort
  • Kidney Weed
  • Blue Star Creeper
  • Bellis
  • Dymondia
  • Sedge grass – Carex pansa, Carex glauca
  • UC Verde

Making the Most of the Drought Tolerant Lawn Grass

Once you have made your choice, installation and care are two things that must be managed carefully in order to get the best result.

  • Amend the planting area and cultivate deeply so roots can penetrate easily.
  • Use a starter fertilizer formulated for turfgrass to get it off to a good start. You may choose to use seed or plugs, but in areas with water restrictions, the best bet is to get rolled out sod. This will be sheets of established grass that will take more quickly and root in half the time with no open areas that are prey to weed infestation. Fertilize the next spring with a high nitrogen grass food and keep the mower a setting up to help keep foliage cover over the sensitive root zone.
  • Thatch and aerate when needed to establish good percolation and keep excess thatch from preventing new grass growth.

Wildflower Farm’s Eco-Lawn Grass Seed – 5 lb

Eco-Lawn is a drought-resistant grass that requires mowing only once per month. Each 5 pound bag of seed covers 1,000 square feet. A thick healthy lawn is the best defence against weeds, disease, drought and insect damage.

Overview

Eco-Lawn™ is a blend of carefully selected fine fescue grasses developed by Wildflower Farm. Eco-Lawn grows in full sun, part shade and even deep shade. Eco-Lawn is highly drought tolerant once established, and has a rich dark green color. Eco-Lawn does not require fertilizing and can be mown like a regular lawn or left unmown for a free-flowing carpet effect.

Experience what thousands of people across North America already know about Eco-Lawn!

Features & Benefits:

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Drought tolerant
  • No fertilizers or chemicals required
  • Less vulnerable to insects and grubs
  • Reduce your mowing time or don’t mow at all!

When is the best time to plant Eco-Lawn?

Click here for the Eco-Lawn Seeding Time Chart

In the Northern USA and Canada the ideal time for you to plant your Eco-Lawn seed is between late August and late September (for the best seeding time in your specific area, please refer to our Seeding Times Chart). The cool evening temperatures, early morning dews and autumn rains create the perfect conditions for germination and growth. Also, nature has programmed fewer weeds to germinate in fall, so your new Eco-Lawn will establish more rapidly, with less weed competition!

Seeding from mid April through mid June is a good second choice. Maximum germination occurs when temperatures are between 10°C (55°F) and 25°C (77°F). If you spread Eco-Lawn seed in cooler temperatures, it will not germinate until the soil temperature reaches 10°C (55°F).

In the southern states, Southern California and much of the southwest, October to November is generally the best time to sow the seed as this provides Eco-Lawn the opportunity to take advantage of the naturally cooler, moister conditions available at that time of year. Sowing Eco-Lawn in November also allows the turf to get established before the heat of summer.

How to Grow Eco-Lawn:

Establishing a New Eco-Lawn

Proper soil preparation is the key to success and is the best opportunity to create a beautiful lawn that will last a lifetime. Taking shortcuts on site preparation will often come back to haunt you with chronic lawn problems such as thatch, weeds and disease.

  • Eliminate all weeds existing on the site.
  • Remove all debris from the area to be seeded. Do not bury construction debris as this will cause problems later on.
  • Rototill the site to loosen the soil to a depth of 3 inches.
  • Ensure that there is a gentle grade sloping away from any buildings. Grades are very important as too steep a grade can cause erosion and loss of nutrients. A grade of one to two percent away from buildings is ideal (one to two feet per one hundred feet of land). Poor drainage can result in a water-logged lawn.
  • Rake the area to smooth the surface and create a good seed bed.
  • Spread a small amount of weed free, organic compost (a 1/4 inch layer equals 3/4 cu. yard for every 1,000 sq. ft.) This will help to start the seeds and the compost will fertilize your lawn for a year. It also helps keep out future weeds and grubs.

Converting Existing Lawns to an Eco-Lawn

1) Apply an organic herbicide to your old lawn. Organic herbicides may not kill plants with just one application. You will have to spray your old lawn every two weeks for up to eight weeks. Read the label carefully. Once your old lawn is dead, mow the dead grass as short as possible and then roughen the area by hard raking it. Then seed the area with Eco-Lawn.

2) Alternatively, strip off the old lawn to a depth of 2 1/2 – 3 inches and remove it entirely. Then either lightly rototill the existing soil or give it a hard raking to create a seed bed. Then spread the seed, rake it into the soil and if possible, roll it flat with a lawn roller.

3) Another method is smother your existing lawn with 4 inches of new soil. This will kill off the old lawn underneath and you can simply spread your Eco-Lawn seed onto the new soil, rake it in and roll it.

Overseeding Existing Lawns

Simply overseeding an existing lawn with Eco-Lawn will not result in an instant conversion to a low maintenance Eco-Lawn as your existing lawn will continue to grow. However, if you were to overseed your old lawn each and every year for four to five years, it will become a true Eco-Lawn. In the meantime, you will need to regularly mow the existing lawn. So while this method will work, it does take time, patience and annual re-seeding. You can accelerate the conversion process by overseeding twice in a year.

Seed Installation

Spread Eco-Lawn seed at 15 seeds per square inch (5 lb. bag covers 1000 square feet) or spread the seed extra thick at 25 seeds per square inch or 7-8 pounds per 1000 square feet. For small areas you may sow by hand. For urban or suburban-sized lawns, use a fertilizer spreader set at about 1/3 open and apply the seed in two passes using half the Eco-Lawn seed per pass – one at right angles to the other in a crisscross pattern for complete coverage.

Gently rake the seed into soil until just slightly covered, you should see some seed on the surface after raking.

Roll the area with an empty to 1/4-full lawn roller (do not fill the roller more than 1/4-full with water so that you do not compact soil). Rolling seeds in for good soil contact is especially important if you have any kind of slope to prevent erosion.

For large areas, Eco-Lawn may be installed via mechanical seeders or hydro-seeding.

Sowing Eco-Lawn Under Large Trees:

While Eco-Lawn will germinate and grow under large trees, please remember that trees need and take a lot of water, so for the first full growing season, please continue to water your Eco-Lawn deeply under the “drip line” of the trees on a weekly basis. This will encourage the deep roots that Eco-Lawn develops to dig down deep. By next year, you should not need to water under the trees at all as your Eco-Lawn will be able to compete with the trees for the water that nature provides. Leaves from trees should be removed in the fall. Mowing them with a mulching mower is the easiest method. The nutrients from the mulched leaves are all the fertilizer your Eco-Lawn should need.

Sowing Eco-Lawn on Slopes:

On steep, erosion-prone slopes Eco-Lawn should be mixed with with an annual rye grass for rapid soil stabilization. Add 1/2 lb annual ryegrass for every 1 pound of Eco-Lawn seed. When planting on slopes in the fall, plant no later than mid-September in northern climates to ensure sufficient growth of the nurse crop to hold the soil. On gentle slopes with no soil erosion, seeding with Eco-Lawn alone is fine.

Dormant Fall Seedings:

In northern climates seeding Eco-Lawn in late season (dormant seeding) can be done very successfully. Careful soil preparation, weed control and good timing are essential with dormant fall plantings. The seeds should be planted in the late fall or early winter after a couple of hard frosts but before the ground is frozen. Seed planted in late October through December will germinate early the following spring. If there is any chance of erosion, a dormant seeding is not recommended. Planted in fall, your new lawn will grow rapidly the following spring.

After Sowing Eco-Lawn

Eco-Lawn germinates in 7-14 days. It is quick to germinate and then slow to grow. During the first few weeks, keep as much traffic off the seedbed as possible. The tender, emerging shoots of your Eco-Lawn will not withstand much wear and tear. Once the grass has grown up to 4-5 inches, you can begin cutting it if you choose to do so. This should be after about 4-6 weeks of growth. If you have some patches that aren’t as thick as the rest, they may not have received enough seed. Don’t be afraid to overseed these areas. The longer they stay bare, the more likely weeds will encroach onto your lawn.

After seeding, water every day (if it does not rain) for 3 weeks in the early morning for 20-30 minutes or what ever length of time it takes to be moist down to one inch. Set up an automatic timer if you cannot water regularly yourself. Adjust the watering so that your soil will stay moist but not have puddles over night. After 3 weeks, cut back to watering every 2 days, for the next 2 weeks. During the first season of growth it is important to keep the top 4 – 6 inches of soil from drying out.

Please note that if you experience drought conditions in the first year, you will need to water your new Eco-Lawn during the first season of growth. Once Eco-Lawn has gone through a full season, your watering regime will change dramatically. In hot, dry climates such as parts of California or Texas your watering will be cut back by 75% over that of traditional, shallow rooted turfs. In most parts of North America your established Eco-Lawn will require no watering except in extreme drought conditions.

Mowing Eco-Lawn

The reason you don’t need to mow Eco-Lawn often is because it grows slowly. If you prefer a traditional “cropped lawn look,” occasional mowing will be necessary, but far less frequently than with other lawn mixtures. Ensure that your mower has sharp blades to prevent damage to the grass. A mulching mower works best. Set your mower to a minimum 3 inch height. Mowing lower than 3 inches will cause damage to your Eco-Lawn as it, like all plants, needs to go through the process of photosynthesis in order to live. Never remove more than one third of the top growth. Mowing too short will damage the turf and reduce its vigor. One of the most common lawn problems is people mowing their lawns too short! Left unmown, your Eco-Lawn turfgrass will form a gentle, flowing carpet of grass.

Maintaining your Eco-Lawn:

Once your Eco-Lawn is established, you’ll only need to water it during extremely dry periods, if at all. If you feel that you do need to water it, occasional thorough soakings are better than frequent light sprinklings This encourages deep root growth, and makes your turf more drought-tolerant. Fertilizer should be applied sparingly, if at all, in early spring or late summer only. Slow-release, balanced fertilizers with nearly equal portions of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are best. This encourages strong root development to keep your turf healthy without excessive top growth that requires mowing. With minimal fertilizing and watering, you’ll reap the benefits of reduced maintenance, lower costs and a healthier environment!

A thick healthy lawn is the best defence against weeds, disease, drought and insect damage. Overseeding your Eco-Lawn on a yearly basis will foster new growth and keep your Eco-Lawn thick and healthy.

Question: How many gallons of water a year will I need to water my Eco-lawn compared to traditional lawn seed such as Kentucky bluegrass?

Answer: Eco-Lawn requires minimal watering. In southern California, for example, no more than 12,400 gallons of water is necessary for a 1,000 square foot Eco-Lawn for the whole year. A standard Kentucky bluegrass or perennial rye lawn requires 1-2 inches of water a week. For a 1,000 sq. ft. lawn that amounts to more than 100,000 gallons a year.

What is in Eco-Lawn?

Eco-Lawn is comprised of the following certified fine fescue grasses:
SR5250 Creeping Red Fescue, SR5130 Chewings Fescue, SR3150 Hard Fescue, Shoreline Slender Creeping Red Fescue, Quatro Sheep Fescue, SR3210 Blue Fescue.

None of the species in Eco-Lawn are genetically modified (GMO).

Read our article Fall is the Best Time to Plant Your Eco-Lawn for a comprehensive guide on growing Eco-Lawn.

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