Desert grasses are temperamental. For homeowners and landscapers alike, keeping a lawn happy can be a full-time job in the summer. Just when you think you’ve given it enough water, a little shade and some fertilizer — bam! — a dead spot appears.
From a few inches to a few feet in diameter, this patch of imperfection can taint the beautifully manicured look of your yard. So you give the area some extra water, more fertilizer, perhaps perform a Mayan grass-healing ritual over it, but your lawn refuses to turn green again. Is your situation hopeless?
“There’s always a reason for this to happen,” says landscaper Michael Underwood, dubbed “turf guy” by the Scottsdale-based company he works with, Landscape Resources. With more than two decades of turf experience under his belt, Underwood knows how frustrating stubborn dead spots can be. He says there are several possible causes for this problem.
“The No. 1 thing is to make sure irrigation covers that spot,” he says. “The biggest reason for them to occur this time of the year is inadequate sprinkler coverage.”
To be sure the spot is getting water, Underwood recommends putting a cup in the center of the dead spot before heading to bed.
Set your sprinkler system to run that night, and in the morning, see if the cup has any water in it.
“Sprinklers have a 12-foot or 15-foot head — meaning how far they throw water,” he says. “You want to make sure all the heads are equal, or increase them if you need to.”
Underwood says changing out a sprinkler nozzle with one that has a longer throw is inexpensive and an easy do-ityourself project.
If the spot is getting water, it could be more to do with the type of grass you’ve planted. Underwood recommends “a good stance of Bermuda” grass. Mixing Bermuda and ryegrass can sometimes lead to dead spots.
“Rye will die out this time of the year,” he says, “and then there might not be enough Bermuda to complete the lawn.”
Finally, make sure the grass has an adequate expanse of sunshine.
“Even in my own yard, I have ficus hanging over my Bermuda,” he ays. “But it’s apparent it prefers full sun.”
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