Take heart – a brown, lifeless lawn is generally not terminal. The first thing to establish is whether the dryness of the grass is seasonal. Several grass types go dormant during dry seasons but will spring to life again once the rains come.
Getting to Grips With the Problem
Warm-season grasses such as Kikuyu, Cynodon, Royal Blue, and LM Berea, will to some extent become dormant during winter months. You can expect new life to sprout again by late spring or early summer.
By contrast, cool-season grasses may turn brown and look dead in summer under heat and drought conditions.
Other Possible Causes
Compaction of the soil caused by heavy traffic, or even mowing, inhibits the growth of your grass and may cause browning. If the soil has become heavily compacted, water and nutrient absorption, essential for root growth, maybe slowed down. Earth worms, which add great benefit to the soil, are unable to establish if it is badly compacted. Aeration, once a year, is the answer to this particular problem, either by hiring an aerating machine for large areas, or by using a simple handheld aerating tool for small to medium areas of lawn.
Fine grass clippings can be left to lie on the lawn acting as a natural mulch while helping your grass to retain water. As they decompose these clippings will return necessary nutrients to the soil. However, “thatching” -caused by heavier grass cuttings left on the lawn – will choke the growth of the grass, and cause browning. Use a metal rake to remove these thicker strands of grass.
Water Your Lawn
Water is the obvious way to green up your lawn. Follow the guidelines for watering newly-laid turf to keep it flourishing throughout the rooting period.
For established lawns it is preferable to water deeply less often rather than a light sprinkling several times a week. Infrequent, deep watering, encourages deep-rooting. This enables your lawn to stay healthy and green during extremely hot weather or periods of drought.
Mowing to the Optimum Height
For most lawns, taking approximately a third of the grass blade off when mowing gives the lawn the best greening opportunity. In addition to creating a thick, compact lawn, the taller blades retain soil moisture and protect the roots. Cutting too short will generally mean that the roots and runners are more exposed to the elements and browning may occur. However, different grass species have different needs in terms of determining the cutting height and it is advisable to check this with your grass specialist when purchasing the turf.
Keep your lawnmower blades sharp so that it cuts your grass cleanly.
Composting and Top Dressing
Applying compost to your lawn improves water drainage, stimulates root growth, and helps to balance the Ph value of your soil. It also attracts worms and other organisms into the soil.
Top-dressing either in spring or autumn stimulates new growth after periods of dormancy and quickly greens-up a tired lawn. Ensure you compost or top-dress correctly, allowing only a thin dressing over the surface of the lawn. It should never cover the blades of the grass completely but should be allowed to drop to the surface of the bedding soil. Bear in mind that the blades of the grass must see the sun in order to grow.
Here’s to a strong, healthy, lush lawn – both good to the eye and a delight to the feet!