Patches of dead grass

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by HazyDavy, Jun 16, 2004.

  1. HazyDavy

    HazyDavy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 102

    Hello everyone. This is my first post/thread on this forum. I am relatively new to lawn care. I bought a house last July that had been vacant for about 3 years, so the lawn was a mess(weeds, crab grass, big bare spots) when I moved in. Last fall I used round up to kill most of my weeds and crabgrass, then a few weeks later raked it up, put down some topsoil, and seeded several times in the fall. I also began an organic lawn program. I used alfalfa pellets, then in the spring corn gluten mean as a pre-emergent. I must say, early this spring I had a great looking lawn. It was growing like crazy, and VERY GREEN. I did have a weed problem, and reluctantly used a weed killer, but I did have great results. Virtually all of my weeds were killed.

    Now to my problem. I live in Raleigh,NC, and this May we had a period of about 4 weeks where it was hot, and we virtually had no rain. I watered heavily once about every 6 or 7 days(deeply and infrequently), but some of my grass started turning brown in patches and eventually died. I did learn(via rain gauges) that my sprinklers weren't putting out as must water as I thought. I would water for an hour, but depending on what sprinkler I used, I was only putting down 1/4-1/2" of water. I have corrected the problem and now put down at least an inch once a week. I'm trying to figure out if my grass died in patches because I didn't put down enough water and/or my grass was still pretty young and the roots may have been fairly shallow, or do I have a grub problem. Over the past few weeks I've noticed LOTS of Japanese Beetles, they've been tearing up my ornamental crabapple tree, and I have just sprayed it, reluctantly with a chemical. I have also read that grub damage generally doesn't appear until august.

    I'm sorry for the long post, but I just wanted to get your thoughts on the reason for my brown spots. Thanks!

    PS - I'm assuming I don't have a fungus problem as I put down lots of corn gluten meal in mid-march.
     
  2. ayyo

    ayyo LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5

    do you own a dog that likes to piss on your grass? or possibly your neighbor has a dog that likes to piss on your lawn. are they small patches of dead grass or large patches? if youve watered it and its still dying and it isnt dog piss then i cant help you
     
  3. cenlo

    cenlo LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Posts: 322

    Seems like if your lawn is only turning brown and dying in patches that it is not due to water shortage. Are chinch bugs a problem in your area? Try turning over a pc of sod, you'll see the grubs (if there is any) then count # / ft2. For chinch bugs, they will be located in the thatch right next to the bare spots. Use a can with both ends cut out, hold in on the ground and fill with water. The chinch bugs will float to surface. For turf problems chech grass blades for irregularities and research.

    Good Luck, Don
     
  4. cenlo

    cenlo LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Posts: 322

    What...........................;)
     
  5. ChickensDoo

    ChickensDoo LawnSite Member
    Posts: 108

    try brown patch. carolina's & tall fescue. See info on building surpressive soils with poultry manures @ www. nutrients plus.com.
    Corn Gluten high nitrogen product, avoid high n in spring on tall fescue. :cry:
    ressed fall with resistant varieties
     
  6. ayyo

    ayyo LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5




    dog piss kills grass
     
  7. cenlo

    cenlo LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Posts: 322

    I understood the response, it just seemed a little shallow!
     
  8. HazyDavy

    HazyDavy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 102

    I did notice a couple of brown patches on my side lawn early this spring and suspected the neighbor's dog. I probably did overfertilize in the spring, but I also thought you were supposed to put down Corn Gluten Meal as a pre-emergent. Would overfertilizing cause the brown spots? Also, I pulled up a very small piece of turf, probably not big enough, but I didn't notice any bugs. Do you think bugs are the most likely cause, or overfertilizing?

    If I do have a bug problem, what's the best way to handle it organically, or do I need to resort to pesticides?

    Thanks for your help!
     
  9. ayyo

    ayyo LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5


    sorry about that. i didnt mean for it to come across that way.:)
     
  10. Randy J

    Randy J LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,124

    I'm guessing NC to be pretty humid, and you mentioned it was during a hot spell, so brown patch fungus is a possibility. Brown patch favors high humidity and temps over 85 during the day and over 60 at night. It also favors turf cut less than optimum height for that type of grass. Look for rings or patches anywhere from 5 inches to 10 feet in diameter, smoke rings - thin brown borders around the diseased patches early in the morning. You can also look on the grass leaves for spots, tan centers with dark brown to black margins.
    Hope this helps, if nothing else than to rule something out.
     

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