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My winter grass is dying but summer isn't coming in.  I have a rabbit and chickens that much a little and poo a lot on the yard.  I started to worry so I went out and measured how far I could get a screw driver down = 3" so I doubled the watering time and when I did it again today only got 3". I aerated the yard last season. Because of all the rabbit poo I have not fertilized it.

Think this will improve over time or what's up? Any ideas?

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Was it a Bermuda summer lawn? If it is, then frankly, you're the envy of many, many people for having done away with it so effortlessly.  :^)


Seriously, though, in my experience Bermuda grows so readily that pretty much any amount of water should show some results.  Can you explain more about your situation? Is it a brown thatch with no green at all or is it down to dirt?

Here are some pictures.  Last couple years, when it started getting warm I scalped it and the Bermuda was already under there coming up but this year it's not so easy :)  Then not getting the screw driver to go any deeper made me wonder if there was an under problem.

Attachments:

We haven't really had a whole bunch of above 90F yet.

You think I should just not worry Powell?  What are your thoughts on the depth not working?

Stephanie,

Powell and I had the Master Gardener class on turf today and were chatting about your lawn.  :^)


Let's see if I can offer useful advice after our lecture.  First, let's get the "is it plugged in" question out of the way: when you turned on your watering system, are all those brown patches getting hit by the water?  

For Bermuda, you need to be watering to a depth of 8-10", which it sounds like you already know.  Rye grass only has a root system of about 3", and I'm guessing over the winter, you were watering only to that depth?  Which could mean that deeper down, it's just bone dry (and also, you probably have a salt build up from shallow watering, which could be killing the bermuda), and it looks like maybe you've got a thatch on your lawn that's preventing the water from really penetrating?  You're not supposed to dethatch until about May, so hold off on that.  What our instructor recommended for brown patches was, after you've confirmed that your irrigation system is working, that you core aerate and then dress the area with a mixture of 1/3 native soil, 1/3 compost, 1/3 course sand, and a couple of handfuls of gypsum.  


She also recommends that people skip overseeding every few years to give their lawn a break (and save water and money). She also recommends that people fertilize just before the lawn grows dormant.  

Please let me know if any of that is helpful.

(Also, permaculture moment: how does a "non-food" crop like turf fit into permie design?  In this case, not only is the grass an aesthetic harvest for the humans, this turf is being used by several species not only for recreation for all but as a food source for some.  Although turf uses more water than other plant choices, a patch of grass in the backyard is often functional.  Turf also serves as a carbon sequestration medium.  And although bermuda shouldn't go into a compost pile that will be used for a veggie garden (because it so easily reproduces), there's no reason why grass clippings, (if the mower isn't mulching them directly back into the lawn) can't be composted for use on itself!  \end soapbox  :^)  )

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