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Saving Your Drought Scorched Lawn

By: Angie's List Email
By: Angie's List Email

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September 7, 2012

There’s a good chance your drought-scorched lawn can be saved, but you have to act now to make it happen, top-rated lawn care experts tell Angie’s List.

“You need to do your fall lawn chores now rather than in a month or so, when it would normally happen,” said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List. “There’s an old saying that beautiful lawns are made in the fall. This year, though, fall needs to start early.”

Angie’s List surveyed highly rated lawn experts across the country this week to determine whether the drought most of the nation experienced this summer will do lasting damage.

“Lawn care specialists say recovery is possible – even likely. The chore list is even the same. It’s just the timing that’s changed,” Hicks said. “We also learned a great little nugget about dandelions. Killing them in the fall with post-emergent is usually more effective than waiting until the spring.”

Many homeowners can tackle lawn care on their own, Hicks said. Those not willing or able to take on the manual labor should seek out highly reputable, experienced and certified lawn care experts.

“Don’t panic and hire someone you don’t know just to get the work done fast,” Hicks said. “Lawns are going to need time to recover from the drought, so homeowners will need to practice some patience. Be leery of any company suggesting it can make miracles happen overnight.”

Angie’s Tips for Labor Day Lawn DIYers

*Read Before You Seed: Get expert advice about what your lawn needs before you buy. Don’t assume that, because it’s in a store near you, every product will perform well in your lawn.

*Go Overboard: Overseed and fertilize now to give the products time to work. A second round of fertilizer may be needed later in the fall in some regions.

*In the Weeds: Don’t be tempted to do everything at once. Weed controls should be applied at least three weeks before seeding. If you missed that window, you can apply weed control once the new grass has matured enough to receive at least three mowings. Don’t use all-purpose herbicides for general weed control. Attack weeds with herbicides designed for specifically for those weeds to avoid killing more plants than you planned.

*Nip it after the Bud: Kill dandelions now with a post-emergent product.

*Read Before You Apply: Many weed control products warn against using them in temperatures above 85 degrees. Read and follow label directions so you don’t do more harm to your already needy lawn.

*Sick or Diseased? Turf disease is common this year in areas hit by the drought. If weakened by the summer weather, Bermuda grass for example, won’t recover on its own and will likely be overtaken by stronger weeds. Dry patches or yellow or browned areas indicate disease.

*Oh, Snap! If you’re unsure if your grass is dead or just playing dead, take a picture of it to show to a reputable lawn care expert. Many lawn care experts will offer affordable advice for those who prefer to do the work themselves, and some hardware and home improvement stores have experts on hand.

*Switch it Up: Some homeowners are careful stewards and always condition their lawns on time. Because of the unusual weather this year, evaluate whether the products you’ve been using for years are what you need this year. You may need something extra to help your lawn recover.

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