How to revive burned out lawn

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Old 07-03-18, 04:53 PM
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Question How to revive burned out lawn

Hi,

I just moved about a month and a half ago. The house has an irrigation system that I didn't realize was still functional until a few weeks ago. I'm starting to use it. But with the heat (I live in Massachusetts) the lawn still isn't doing great. I'm guessing that it went dormant in between the time that the former owners left and when I got the sprinkler system working. So it's still quite yellowish brown. The last few weeks I've been watering it a couple of times a week for about 40 minutes. I read that it's better to give lawns infrequent soakings. But it's still not responding.

Any advice? I've never had a lawn, so this stuff is new to me. I'm not sure whether I should give up and stop wasting water and let it go dormant, or if there is hope.
 
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Old 07-03-18, 04:56 PM
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It may take a month or more to respond to the watering. Cooler temps would help as well. Depending on the size of the lawn, number of zones, and type of sprinkler heads, 40 minutes may not be enough. Watering every other day... or every 3rd day would be sufficient if you are watering deeply. Early morning is the best time to water.
 
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Old 07-04-18, 04:34 AM
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Do you know what type of grass you have? I assume some type of cool season grass. But, if you want to get serious about getting your lawn nice you need to figure out what type of grass you have. There are numerous websites that can help with identification.

Put a few old Tupperware containers around your yard. Measure how deep the water is in the container after one of your watering sessions. Irrigating for 40 minutes is a very long time especially since you are doing it two times a week. About 1" of water a week is enough especially in the hottest part of summer when the grass isn't growing.

Watering properly isn't a silver bullet to make dormant grass green up and start growing. If the grass has gone dormant due to summer heat there isn't a lot you can do until temperatures cool. Most cool season grasses don't do much growing when the top of the soil gets above about 90f during the day which is easy to get in the summer sun. Fertilizing is also mostly useless and can be harmful so don't think about fertilizing until daytime highs are in the low 80's, probably late August.
 
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Old 07-04-18, 09:39 AM
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Thank you for your advice. Based on yours and sleepers opinion, it sounds like there isn't much hope since we're now into the hottest part of the summer. So should I just stop wasting water and let it stay dormant? If so, how frequently would I need to water to make sure a dormant lawn doesn't die?

At this point, based on your feedback, it seems sensible to let it stay dormant and then make sure I get started on the right foot next spring.

Happy Fourth of July.
 
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Old 07-04-18, 02:10 PM
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Down here in NC watering only has about 25% the impact on the lawn as it does in spring and fall. Even with ample rain it doesn't make the grass grow much. It does help keep it green though and if the grass completely dries out it will break if you walk on it. The dryness doesn't kill the grass but the above ground portion dries out or goes dormant. I have tall Fescue and don't bother watering the main lawn. For me it's just wasted water.

Fall is a good time to tackle the lawn especially if you want to overseed. It's too late to do a lot about weed control but if you want to irrigate that's a better time to spend your water. You can also fertilize with something that has a smaller first number (lower in nitrogen and higher in phosphorus and potassium) which will promote strong root growth and overall plant health.

Then next spring plan ahead for pre-emergent herbicides if you want to control weeds and high nitrogen (big first number) fertilizer to kick the grass growth into high gear. This will produce lots of nice dark green growth and of course require more frequent lawn mowings.
 
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