Dry spots in the lawn can be caused by insufficient water, disease, herbicide damage and soil compaction - to name a few.
With the heat, wind and drought, it’s not unusual for dry spots to appear. With irrigation systems, dry spots can be caused by poor design, deficient water pressure, misaligned sprinklers, broken or damaged sprinkler heads and wind drift. Audit your system to see what’s what.
Tuna or cat food cans are very helpful with auditing. Get irrigation auditing instructions from your county extension office.
Take all root rot (TARR) can cause dead areas in St. Augustine and Bermuda grass. These dead spots typically appear during spring green up.
The disease can attack grass at anytime, but fall infection is common and subtle. Most home gardeners don’t notice it, but have areas dead, yellow or declining grass in the spring.
Look at yellow or declining grass runners to see if roots are short and rotted. In most cases damaged lawns begin to recover and spread in mid to late summer.
Reduce TARR by fertilzing with ammonium sulphate (21-0-0), using sulfur, and top dressing with one inch of sphagnum peat moss. The peat moss can be reapplied in the fall as well as the following spring. These steps help acidify the top inch or so of soil and TARR can’t survive in an acid environment. Make sure to meet the other plant needs such as light, water, proper pest management and mowing for the best results.
Easy on the manure
Problems with your vegetable garden? Generous amounts of animal manures, especially bovine, can cause yellowing, burning and even plant death.
Manures can be high in salts and phosphorus. The excess salts can enhance seed germination, but damage seedlings shortly after they emerge. Excess salts can cause burning of the leaves and roots and tie up minor nutrients like iron and zinc, which can cause yellowing and stunting.
Limit the use of manure to about a one-inch layer and then supplement that with 2-3 inches other organic matter materials. Composting manures before using them can reduce problems. Horse and rabbit manures are less likely to burn.
Besides the aggravation, high winds take a toll on plant growth. Wind speeds increase plant water loss by increasing the evapotranspiration rate. Ninety percent of the water a plant takes up transpires or moves into the atmosphere but this increases with heat, wind, low humidity and wind speed.
Plants that are better adapted to the arid regions often are smaller, thicker, shinier and/or covered in hairs. These are adaptations that slow the loss of water from the plant and allow it to survive in dry times.
There are many plants that will withstand periods of drought with no additional water or with occasional supplemental water.
Tom Dominguez is an agent with the Quay County Extension, NMSU Extension Service. He can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 461-0562.
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