Brown spots in lawn cause concern


This is the time of year when lawns sort of take a beating. They are being mowed for the first time and may not look so hot right after mowing. In addition, recent cold temperatures also caused problems.

Lawns are really beginning to take off and the growth is very irregular due to the different growth rates of the various grass varieties in a lawn. Therefore, the first mowing or two sometimes leaves them looking less than desirable.

In general, you might see some darker and lighter spots throughout the lawn. After a few mowings this will all even out and the lawn will look fairly normal.

The most recent problem that people are seeing in lawns has to do with the recent cold temperatures. Extension offices around Ohio and our Ohio State University turf specialists have received numerous calls about brown spots in lawns.

As I mentioned, the grass is beginning to grow and is nice and lush. Once cut, the tender growth is exposed to the environment. This growth was hit by the cold temperatures on April 15.

The tips that were lush and tender were basically frozen which caused tip dieback. If you look closely at the tips, you will see that the crown and base of the plant is still green but the tips are brown.

As long as the base is alive, the new growth will eventually take over and the lawn will eventually look green again.

OSU turf specialist Joe Rimelspach explains it completely in this YouTube video: http://go.osu.edu/springlawnspots

One of the other things that causes brown turf grass is a dull mower blade. A sharp mower blade cuts the grass blade leaving a nice clean edge.

A ragged mower blade shreds the grass blade, leaving a ragged edge that turns brown. This is very noticeable in the lawn. The entire lawn would have a brownish appearance as opposed to brown spots.

Once again, take a close look at the grass blade to determine what’s going on.

I know the broadleaf weeds are taking off and dandelions are also starting to bloom. This might be causing consternation for those who like a weedless lawn.

According to research, the best time to control dandelions is in the “puff-ball” stage. This is of course, when they have gone to seed and when the kids like to blow on them.

The best time to apply a broad spectrum granular weed control product is around mid- to the end of May when the majority of the broadleaf weeds are up and growing.

If you apply a granular product now, you may also have to spot treat later on. Or vice versa; spot treat now and apply your granular product later in May.

I would gauge the amount of broadleaf weeds that you have and decide your best approach. If you have a lot of them, hit them with a granular weed control product in late May and then work on spot-treating in the fall.

The best thing to do to control broadleaf weeds is to fertilize and have a thick stand of turfgrass. This prevents weeds from growing.


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