Is Your Lawn Dead, Dying or Just Sleeping?

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Is Your Lawn Dead, Dying or Just Sleeping?

Snow lovers, let’s face it. This winter has been a bust in terms of snowfall (so far!) With another polar vortex coming this weekend, we have to wonder what these bitterly cold temperatures are doing to our lawn.

Although the snow totals have been low, we have experienced a freeze-thaw-refreeze environment this winter. This is very damaging to turf, especially the roots, which can become almost frost bitten and eventually die. So looking at your lawn now, is it dead, dying or just sleeping?

Many of us hope that Punxsutawney Phil was wrong with his predication for six more weeks of winter. Matter of fact, with the warm up tease this past weekend, we had hopes that spring will come early and that groundhog was wrong. But old man winter is not done with us yet and by the look of yards around Northern Virginia, the frozen tundra that takes place this weekend are really beating up on turf.

If your lawn is brown when the pre-spring melt starts to occur; your turf or sections of your turf are in fact dead. If your brow grass starts to slowly turn back to green, your turf has been sleeping or hibernating this winter. The easiest way to determine if your turf is dead is to gently pull on the blades in the brown sections. If the blades show resistance then you might be able apply CPR and save that area. If the blades do not show resistance and come up with a gentle pull, the roots are waiving the white flag and this section is dead.

So how can you revive your dying turf or even start over and prepare for the spring melt? Start monitoring temperatures. If the temperatures do not fall below 35 degrees at night, your local weather person declares the last chance for frost; this means that the soil temperatures are beginning to rise. Once they reach an average temperature between 55 and 65 degrees is when you can start taking action.

Remove the dead, brown grass sections to start CPR by pulling them out with the dead root attached if possible. Reseeding can take place as long as the temperatures are cooperating. Spread new seed and soil on the bare patches throughout your yard. We recommend that you rake it to turn over the soil with the seed or use a seed spreader if you have a larger area to revive. Lightly water the area just to keep the soil damp for 15 to 20 minutes daily; less watering if there is rain.

Once you see germination happening (when the seeds start to sprout) increase watering from a light mist to a deep saturation for 10 minutes every day. Fertilizer is next and we recommend that you use one that has a high concentration of Phosphorus. This type of fertilizer is very effective at creating growth below ground and aides in root development. And then…you have new turf! But remember to let it grow a minimum of three inches before you give it a good mowing.

Now is the time to start assessing your lawn and preparing for the inevitable spring-thaw that will be coming soon. If you have questions or would like Sunrise Landscape to come and assess your turf and develop a system for regrowth, contact us and we are happy to help determine if you have life in your yard or if your turf may need some CPR.