Repairing a Drought Damaged Lawn is Fairly Easy to do.
People say to me; “I don’t water my lawn during the summer, I just let it go dormant. It will come back.” Well . . . there’s a fine line between dormant and dead and this year I’m seeing a whole lot of dead.
It’s true that cool-season grasses like we have here in the north will go dormant when it gets hot and dry. But they still need a little water from time to time.
If your lawn doesn’t get any water during a hot and dry spell there’s a good chance that parts of your lawn will die and not come back if you’ve experienced a drought.
When that happens you really should repair the damaged areas. If you don’t, those areas will fill in with weeds or wanted grasses.
Weeds you can control with an application of a weed and feed type of fertilizer, but when those areas ill in with unwanted, wide-bladed, ugly grasses, you have a problem because weed and feed fertilizers are engineered to kill broadleaf weeds and not kill grasses.
Even undesirable grasses will not be controlled with an application of a weed and feed fertilizer.
So… this is what I do.
Doing Spot Lawn Repair.
I wait until mid-fall to do anything. Usually here in Ohio, the third week of September is ideal because it’s not so hot and when I plant grass seed it won’t need much care.
The first thing I do is survey my lawn with a can of inverted orange spray paint in my hand. (you know, the kind of spray paint that works upside down) I draw a circle around any undesirable, wide-bladed grasses and or weeds that I want to eliminate.
After I’ve marked out everything that I want to get rid of, I go around and spray just those areas with a non-selective herbicide that contains glyphosate. I usually use some generic brand of non-selective herbicide that contains glyphosate.
The reason that I mark out all the areas that I want to spray in advance with orange paint is so I’ll know where to spray, then after I’ve sprayed I need to know where to plant the grass seed.
So I draw orange circles, ovals, and triangles all over my lawn. Then I spray only inside of those areas with a non-selctive herbicide that will kill the unwanted grasses.
Don’t use a lawn weed spray because it won’t kill the unwanted grasses and will only kill broadleaf weeds. You have to use something that is considered non-selective but does not linger in the soil. The most popular products contain glyphosate.
When you spray using one of those inexpensive (didn’t want to say cheap) pump sprayers, the one-gallon size is all I use and mark on the sprayer with a wide-bladed permanent marker, “weed killer” so you don’t use that sprayer for anything else.
Be careful how you spray. You have to be careful to not allow the spray to drift into areas of the lawn that you don’t want to kill.
I do that by adjusting the spray nozzle so the spray pattern is a little heavier and not a fine mist. The heavier spray pattern is easier to control and pinpoint what you are spraying.
After you spray, just leave the lawn alone for 72 hours and give the herbicide a chance to be absorbed and translocated to the roots of the weeds and grass that you are trying to kill.
After 72 hours the areas that you sprayed won’t look dead, but they are. Just sprinkle grass seed over the areas that you sprayed, making sure to get good coverage of all of the areas that you sprayed inside the orange circles.
Water as needed. Over the next 10 days all of the areas that you sprayed will turn brown and look ridiculous, but as that is happening the grass seed will start germinating and will eventually fill in the areas that you sprayed. Keep in mind, your lawn will not look “normal” until next spring.
Repairing Large areas of Lawn Damage.
If you have large areas of your lawn that have been damaged by drought you can rent a machine called an over seeder. What an over seeder does slice the soil a little the drops grass seed as it moves along.
I’ve used an over seeder on my lawn and it worked great, but it was a bit of a beast of a machine to use.
When I did my lawn I had a lot of weeds that came in after drought damage so I first applied weed and feed over the entire lawn to get rid of all of the weeds then I did the over seeder thing.
So you can apply weed and feed to get rid of the weeds. Then if you have thick bladed grasses that you want to get rid of you can do the spot treatment as well, before you use the over seeder.
I hope this helps. Questions?