Grass Dying in Mower Tracks

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by MOturkey, Jun 21, 2006.

  1. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,781

    I'm just wondering if any of you have experienced this. I'm not talking about the thinning of grass in areas where tires track the same place every mowing, such as on the side of a ditch.

    I have an account where the yard sits below the level of the street. I usually mow in one of three patterns. This year, I've mowed mostly diagonally, switching directions each mowing, because I like the diamond pattern it produces, and shows off well from the street. Last week, I decided to switch it up and mow parallel to the street. The last time I did this was probably 6 weeks or so ago.

    Anyhow, today when I serviced the account, in portions of the yard, the grass was totally brown in sections of last week's tire tracks. I'm not talking just a little dead on top, I mean totally brown! It isn't 100% coverage, seems kind of hit and miss. There are, however, some places where the strips of dead grass are perhaps 10 feet long. It looks exactly as if someone had precisely sprayed a strip with Roundup.

    I've never seen this before, but I've only been mowing commercially 3 years. This is the only yard I noticed this phenomonen on. However, I mow a couple of agriculture related businesses about 2 miles from this property. They are always driving across the property with trucks and trailers. About 3 or 4 weeks ago, there were some strips exactly like this where a truck or some other vehicle had driven across the grass. In this case, it was probably 50 yards long, again looking exactly like it had been sprayed with a herbicide. We've got a couple of good rains since then, and the grass has since greened back up in those tracks. I'm just hoping it also does so in my customer's yard.

    Anyhow, I'd just be interested in knowing if this is common, or not. Thanks.
  2. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,366

    Very common problem in our area when the grass is bone dry the weight of the machine crushes the grass down and it don't ever come back up. Big machines leave big tracks and a 21" will leave little tracks. We tried blowing it back up after mow and that don't work. The only thing you can do is stop mowing when it is dry and use trimmers to cut the grass. We just lost a long time customer last week over the same issue. And when you tell the customer it is a lack of water.....well they just won't listen. So instead of skipping the yard we use weed eaters. That grass won't come back until next year if they don't have sprinklers.
  3. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Messages: 4,205

    It sounds like you're having some drought conditions.........
    This tends to happen during periods of little rain, as has been said, the weight of the mower on the tires actually crushes the blades of grass due to lack of moisture. The fact that they've greened up with a bit of rain seems to point to this theory.
  4. TLS

    TLS LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,943

    Along with the ideas above, hot tires can have a big effect as well.

    Ever touch your tires on a 100 degree sunny day?
  5. Drew Gemma

    Drew Gemma LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,508

    you are doing one of the following:

    Crushing the crowns of the turf plants becasue they are to dry

    Or you have a fungus issue that you tracked on to the lawn

    probably the first one

    solution mow it early when their is still dew or a little moisture left in the plant from the dark cool night.
  6. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,858

    I have the same problems... getting DRY around here and those that don't water enough and have dry patches it's best to just go around them if at all possible.

    Maybe our dry is going to be solved tonight! Rain is on it's way in less than half an hour maybe...
  7. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,940

    I agree the problem is most likely very dry turf on a hot day.

    One other thought where I have seen a problem ... After a hard summer rain, the ground is wet, the temps are high and sun is harsh. When the wheels track, they are picking up water (shiny wet). When the hot sun hits the wet blades, they will turn brown (perhaps like a sunburn?).
  8. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,781

    Guys, thanks for the information. It was in the 90's when I mowed last week (as well as yesterday, but we got 2-3 inches of rain over the weekend). We've had another rain today, and more supposedly on the way, so I'm hoping that will alleviate the problem.
  9. CutInEdge Lawn Care

    CutInEdge Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 677

    MoTurkey, I had a similar problem last summer when I purchased my Z. I was filling the tank to full and with it being hot and a bumpy yard, you can guess what happened. Yep, gas dripping onto tire made for a real nice tire stripe. It's a good thing we got lots of rain last yr. took about 2 months for it to go away. Whewwwww!!!!!!!!! This season you can't even tell, but I am reminded of it every week when pulling up. Good Luck!!!
  10. Dashunde

    Dashunde LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 638

    I had a lawn pull that trick last season... and it was my wb that did it.
    Looked horrible, and it really does make it look like we do something wrong because it is our exact tracks.

    Fortunately it came back pretty quick once the new owners figured out how to operate their irrigation system. (Remax prop w/ irr off for a few weeks between old and new owners.)

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