View Full Version : Wheels Causing Dead Grass?

07-12-2002, 08:54 AM
Last night I did a bid for a lady that just bought a new house. About half of the back yard had dead grass in stripes that looked like they where exactly the width of mower wheels. Her husband mowed it last week with a reel pusher mower (No Gasoline). The stripes are criscrossed and she said he cut it in two directions.
I looked in the driveway for evidence of gasoline, oil, or other substance that could have gotten on the wheels but saw none.

Any Ideas?

07-12-2002, 09:22 AM
the same thing has happened to me before , the tires on a rider must heat up in the sun and bake the grass......of course in my situation it was only a week before the whole yard was burnt out from the heat and lack of rain

Shady Brook
07-12-2002, 09:32 AM
I am with OB.

Just past one of my better homes yesterday, and there were my brown lines all over the front yard!:(

My thought was: When I mowed it last, the grass was begining to brown, and was dry, yet had some decent growth mixed in, maybe a different type of grass intermixed that handled the heat better? I figured that I must have crushed the dry grass resulting in damaged blades where every my wheels were, while the other type of grass handled it fine. Looks real bad. That is just my theory anyway.


07-12-2002, 10:24 AM
not sure why it does it but i have a few lawns that look the same
with some cool weather and some rain it will snap out of it

bubble boy
07-12-2002, 10:54 AM
yeah, that will happen when its hot and dry. you're wheels are actually stressing the grass as it drives on it. you break the blades as they are in a weakened state. i dont know if there is a better, more technical explanation

it will be there in my experience for weeks, but the grass will eventually come back.

once its done, i don't know if there is anything you can do.

07-12-2002, 11:05 AM
You guys are very close!

1. It will come back. This means that it is not dead. (dormant)
2. Driving over grass that is heat stressed bends it over and it stays bent over. Then the sun has exposure to the full length of the blade to finish the baking process. I mowed an irrigated yard and the neighbor was not, my front wheels went in his yard for a few turns and we had scortched arcs in his yard. He was not happy! Fall came and they were gone. My $0.02.


07-12-2002, 11:19 AM
there is a fungus ive seen affect st aug that will stick to tires and spread across yard as tire rolls

07-12-2002, 11:55 AM
It is stress from dormancy. In the right conditions, footprints will do the same thing. The best thing to do with it at this point, is to stay of of it, and apply water. It will be alright.

07-12-2002, 06:22 PM
Rhizoctonia solani survives from year to year in the form of mycelium or bulbils (resting bodies of the fungus) in plant debris and thatch. As such, it also is capable of existing away from the host as a saprophyte. As average daily temperatures rise , the bulbil germinates and forms fungal hyphae, which spread through the soil surface and thatch. During humid, hot weather, the hyphae grow onto moist grass blades and enter the plant through wounds and stomates (natural leaf pores). Local spread is by mycelium bridging from plant to plant. Longer distance spread is by mycelium clinging to wet mower wheels during early morning mowing. This sometimes causes symptoms to appear in a wheel track pattern, rather than in the characteristic circular pattern.

07-12-2002, 11:18 PM
We consulted a GOlf Course Sup and were told that the lawn simply lacks IRON. We experimented with iron....and the red/brown tire lines went away. Some call it "bleeding of the grass". Either way, IRON solved our problem.

robert payer
07-12-2002, 11:45 PM
If you say that you tried it and it works. I am interested.
With all due respect, I was of the opinion that iron should never be applied to a stressed lawn? Can any one weigh in on this and shead some light?

07-13-2002, 12:41 AM
When a lawn is just going into drought stress, the grass stems get dry and brittle. Runnning a mower on the lawn at this time will break a lot of the stems where there is pressure - i.e., on your tire tracks. Of course, you get the same effect with a bicycle tire, or car tires. And even footprints can show, as noted above.

Since the stems are broken, those stems and leaves are dead and will just stay brown even if rain or irrigation returns. Thus you see the brown tracks in the green lawn. In our cool season turf, new shoots will grow, and the brown leaves will decay. But this process will sometimes take 4-6 weeks.

Only solution is to learn to recognize when your sites are in that condition, and don't mow unless absolutely necessary. Squeezing in one last cut before drought dormancy will make your sites look bad for weeks after green returns. LOL.

You can actually recognize sections of lawns in this condition, and just mow the parts that are not yet going into stress; a few longer blades in these areas won't make a difference when the lawn will be brown soon.

07-14-2002, 02:27 PM

Many Centipede lawns here in the panhandle of FL display the symptoms described in this thread. We had 2 pros (one from a golf course & one from turf store) come out and look at some of these lawns. The golf Sup. broke off some of the brown/red grass and described it as brittle, bleeding grass. He said it lacked iron. I bought a bag of IRONITE from Walmart. Less than 10 days later, ALL the brown & Red was gone. No new tracks appear when I mow either. Several weeks later, I re-applied ironite. Now it has been over a month and there is still no problem.

Now we may be talking about different situations. All I can attest to is that Iron fixed our problem.

07-15-2002, 08:11 AM
Wow, I am surprised at how many of you responded to my post. Thanks much. The area that has marks is in full sun and where there is shade, there are no marks so I guess the stress thing makes sense.

07-15-2002, 08:26 AM
I have seen the foot prints that do this. Looks real funny.

Every year I get tire tracks in some lawns. Nuttin to do about it, except tell people to water more. Will they listen? probably not.