Lawns should be fully green and growing nicely with the onset of warm temperatures and recent rains. If your lawn has dead spots then take action this month to promote healthy growth and a dense weed-free lawn for summer.
There are several reasons why the lawn may have thin areas or dead spots. Environmental conditions like our cold winter or drought, improper mowing practices and thatch, poor soil fertility and pH, diseases and insects and soil compaction. Some of these are more easily resolved than others and improving any one or more of these problems will improve grass growth.
If the dead area is less than 2-feet large, then improving adjacent grass growth is all that will be needed for grass to regrow and cover the area. If the problem area is larger, then it is recommended to buy grass sod and replant the area. Large areas will not be covered in a single growing season and weeds will become another problem to combat.
Use a slow release turf fertilizer and water weekly in the absence of rain. Promote centipede grass growth by watering. Promote St. Augustine with fertilizer. Avoid cutting too low and scalping the grass. You want plenty of green grass blades to grow to speed recovery.
When purchasing grass sod there are several things to look for to assure you are buying quality sod. Confirm the grass variety and its sod classification. When grass is cut very short and sold as sod, it can be easy to confuse centipede and St. Augustine with carpet grass and bahia grass. Look for any weeds, especially Florida betony, torpedo grass and bahia grass. Look for a uniform thickness of soil and a vertical cut along all sides of the sod. Grass should be free of insects and diseases. It is essential that sod is fresh and has not been stored on a pallet for longer than 24 hours.
Replanting large dead areas or renovating a lawn is hard work and expensive so take care to install grass sod correctly for quick establishment and healthy growth. Prepare the soil by lightly tilling and leveling so water drains away from the house and no low spots exist. Lay each sod piece so that no edges are exposed and no gaps between pieces exist. It is critical that there is direct and total soil to sod contact with no vegetation or debris under the sod. Lay pieces so they are staggered – this is not essential but gives a more pleasing look to a newly sodded lawn and may help prevent soil movement and erosion. Grass sod quality and sod installation is regulated by the LA Dept. of Agriculture & Forestry for the consumer’s protection. Visit the LA Dept. of Agriculture & Forestry's website for more information.