Grass in the front yard is dying..

Reply

  #1  
Old 05-21-17, 03:09 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: USA
Posts: 9
Unhappy Grass in the front yard is dying..

Location is Santa Clara in Norcal. We put down the tall fescue sod in early Jan, which is supposed to be highly tolerant of draught. It was pretty rainy throughout Jan and Feb so we didn't water the lawn much. The front lawn is east facing and gets about 7 hours sunshine a day. Towards mid mar when we mowed the lawn for the first time, we noticed some yellow roots hidden underneath the green grass, and they became a bit more visible after the lawns were mowed. Then we started to water the lawn more often like 2-3 times a week and put fertilizer in mid Apr but it didn't seem to work. The yellow patches were getting bigger and more grass were dying, this is what it looks like now, in late May. Is the lawn pronounced dead or there is something else we can do to save it? Name:  Screen Shot 2017-05-21 at 15.13.17.jpg
Views: 277
Size:  91.9 KBName:  Screen Shot 2017-05-21 at 15.13.31.jpg
Views: 340
Size:  92.2 KB
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 05-21-17, 03:13 PM
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: North East Kingdom of Vermont
Posts: 2,355
What was the pH of the soil bed that you laid the sod in ?
 
  #3  
Old 05-21-17, 03:19 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: USA
Posts: 9
Not very sure about that since a contractor put down the sod for us. We can go and get a test kit to measure the soil PH. Once we know about the PH results what should we do?
 
  #4  
Old 05-21-17, 05:10 PM
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: North East Kingdom of Vermont
Posts: 2,355
I don't know the preferable pH for Tall Fescue; but if your soil tests deviate much from what it calls for, then you can adjust up (with Lime) or down (with Sulphur). I would think your Contractor did these preliminaries BEFORE laying the sod ?

Also, I hadn't seen your picture earlier; but that pattern may say something is happening below the surface . . . like Chinch Bugs ?

I don't know if your State is vulnerable to Chinch Bugs . . . . but here's a little primer on them:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YluseWV7EQ
 
  #5  
Old 05-21-17, 07:45 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: USA
Posts: 9
Thanks for the tip. So we followed the ways on youtube to check for chinch bug and there seems to be none. We checked different corners of the yard and didn't find any bug after aggressively flipping the grass.
 
  #6  
Old 05-22-17, 03:43 AM
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: North East Kingdom of Vermont
Posts: 2,355
Clearly . . . . I don't know what it is.

Have you driven around your neighborhood and asked any other people if they know the cause of similar brown spots in their lawns . . . . or does this seem to be unique to yours ?

You're lucky if you have Neighbors in the exact same environmental conditions; they can be your most valuable consultants . . . . I don't have any and miss them.

There is a brown patch fungus that could produce a result like what you have pictured; but I doubt that it would single out just your lawn !

And you indicated that you haven't done anything to the lawn except water and mow . . . . no herbicides, fungicides or insecticides have been applied so far (or over applied).

Without being accusative, you might ask the Contractor who installed the sod what he thinks is the cause of this "patching", or get him to direct you to the sod farm where they may be fielding complaints about the Tall Fescue similar to yours.

Your current efforts at an accurate diagnosis are what's most important and you're starting out with a fairly clean slate; so I'd avoid any quick remedies which might just complicate the situation. Right now, it could be chemical or environmental or fungal or animal (like insects); but it seems way too dispersed to be the result of some dog or cat urinating all over the lawn.

Here's another Video on becoming a Lawn Detective:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzOHSzdMdVg
 

Last edited by Vermont; 05-22-17 at 04:31 AM.
  #7  
Old 05-22-17, 04:46 AM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 17,640
I am concerned that your lawn was installed in January and did not need mowing until mid March. All of the sod I've put down has needed mowing a week after installation. How did your lawn look January through March? Was it lush and green or did you have brown areas?

New sod needs very special care in the beginning. Sod is a adult plant and they cut off 95%+ of the roots when they harvest it. When it is installed it needs to be watered religiously according to the recommendations. Even though California got record rains this season if your lawn went a day without water when it was first installed can be enough to cause problems.

Brown patch and other fungal diseases are a possibility but I doubt you've been warm enough for that to be a likely cause. But, sod is highly stressed and weakened by the harvesting process and is more suseptible to disease during the first several months after installation.
 
  #8  
Old 05-22-17, 07:31 AM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: WI/MN
Posts: 18,567
In addition to what Dane said, proper soil preparation is as important when sodding as when seeding and I am concerned little to no prep was done.
 
  #9  
Old 05-22-17, 10:15 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: USA
Posts: 9
There might be some days without rain and we didn't water much but overall I think the water is sufficient. The lawn was all lush and green from Jan to Mar. Yellow patch started to develop towards mid to late Mar and got worse quickly in the last 2 weeks. Our neighbor's grass looks all ok, there doesn't seem to be anyone having this problem. The contractor we hired for the sod is the same guy who did the driveway for us. I suspect he doesn't have any knowledge about the preparation works except just marking a couple of rounds in the front yard using a tiller. His driveway work is also very very bad...
 
  #10  
Old 05-23-17, 04:46 AM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 17,640
What have your temperatures been like when the grass started turning brown? Day and night temperatures? Some fungal diseases need warm days and nights while others do better with cool nights and warm days.

Look in the transition zone between the brown and green grass. When you look close do you see any white fuzz on the grass?

You can also contact your county's Agricultural Extension Office. They will likely want you to take a sample of the grass across the margin area from brown to green and include roots so they can examine and test it for disease. In my county the testing is free. I cut the sample in the morning and wrapped the roots in aluminum foil and dropped it off on my way to work. I had the results back in about a week.
 
  #11  
Old 05-24-17, 10:32 PM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Oregon
Posts: 594
Too much water (rain + irrigation) can kill a lawn.....
 
  #12  
Old 05-30-17, 02:44 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: USA
Posts: 9
Does this mean my lawn soil is alkaline?

I've asked for help with diagnosing what's going on with my dying lawn in a separate post. I tested the soil PH level the other day. Does the reading indicating my soil is a bit alkaline? The best PH for tall fescue is 6.5. Should I try to neutralize the soil a bit?


Name:  IMG_20170525_195404.jpg
Views: 116
Size:  48.8 KB
 
  #13  
Old 05-30-17, 03:19 PM
chandler's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 39,968
7 is neutral, and the higher you go on the scale the more alkaline the soil is. The lower, the more acid it is. I would not add lime at this time as you are pretty close to being where it needs to be. Take a reading in more than one location just to be sure.
 
  #14  
Old 05-30-17, 04:20 PM
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: North East Kingdom of Vermont
Posts: 2,355
Your picture seems to show a Moisture Gauge; NOT a pH Meter !
 
  #15  
Old 05-30-17, 04:36 PM
chandler's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 39,968
I thought so, too, until I looked at the switch at the bottom. Multi tasking probe, I guess.
 
  #16  
Old 05-30-17, 04:38 PM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 17,640
Testers like that can be quite inaccurate. To get an accurate test you can contact your counties Agricultural Extension Office. They will have a box and instructions how to take a soil sample. They will provide your soil analysis and suggestions what you need to do for what you are growing.
 
  #17  
Old 05-30-17, 04:49 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 44,472
Two lawn care threads combined.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes
'