As the cooler spring days fade into the heat of summer, a lot of new lawns have been plagued with brown spots. However, there is no need to worry as these can easily be fixed. Typically, brown spots are caused by a lack of watering. New sod is especially prone to drying out because it has such a shallow root system. Brown spots occur when the sod dries out and experiences drought shock. In response to the lack of water, the sod will go into dormancy to try and combat the lack of water its experiencing, basically it goes into dormancy as a survival mechanism. Once it’s dormant it still needs water or it will die. Often times, edges of the sod tends to dry out first because they are exposed to the most air and dry out faster. The spotting in the sod occurs for a variety of reasons, but it depends mostly on how water is dispersed around the yard and the various dips and valleys in the grade of the lawn. If certain parts are getting less water, even just a tiny bit less, it could be enough to turn them brown.
For new sod, it still has a very shallow and underdeveloped root system that’s only about ¾ of an inch deep. When it’s extremely hot or windy, the dry air causes the plant to dry out quickly since the root system is so shallow. A lot of times the ground below the plant will be wet but the plant itself is drying out. If the root system still hasn’t had a chance to root into the ground, then it won’t be able to access any of that water. The roots can’t grow into the ground if they don’t have enough water, and the roots are the main source of water, so without a strong root system, the grass is relying on you to keep it well hydrated as it gets more established.
Now that you know a little more about why brown spots are caused, you’re probably wondering how to fix them. The answer is water. Especially with the really hot weather the summer so often brings, your lawn needs water. A lot of times even watering every day is not enough for new lawns. If the grass is dry, it needs water. Especially the first 1-8 weeks that you install it. Giving it a long watering at night is great because it helps the sod get a really thorough drink that won’t evaporate right away with the heat, but it’s also important to periodically water throughout the day. Even fertilizer won’t help your grass until it’s green and healthy again. If the plant is dying, then it won’t take the fertilizer so wait to fertilize until its greened back up. Once it’s healthy, fertilizer really helps it grow and establish the deeper root system it needs. So what it comes down to is more frequent irrigation cycles and hand watering the brown spots during the day.
Although brown spots in new lawns can be frustrating, it’s just your lawns way of asking for a drink. So keep your brand new lawn happy and healthy by making sure it gets plenty of water when brow spots appear!