As we enter into the heat of the summer cool season grasses such as tall fescue and ryegrasses tend to turn brown. Two reasons come to mind regarding this change. If the lawn is uniformly brown then the grass may simply be going dormant. If the lawn has irregular brown patches then you may have brown patch disease in your lawn. Cool season grasses tend to go stop growing from both the leaves and the roots in order to conserve moisture and energy. This cuts down on the need to mow so frequently.
Unless the summer is severely hot and dry the grass will survive and green up in the fall. A grass plant can possibly survive without water for up to 28 days. You should take care not to let the plant die from drought, but dormancy can be a protective measure for your turf. Trying to push the grass out of dormancy with things such as “Summer Fertilizer” will damage grass in the Fredericksburg area. Take it easy.
If you have irregular patches of brown that start out small and spread then you probably have Brown Patch fungus. Stress such as heat and traffic, high levels of moisture, and high temperatures causes disease spores to thrive. This is the perfect environment for spores and they are practically dancing in the streets with joy. What happens when you put wet towels in a laundry basket for a week? The same thing is happening in your grass at ground level.
Should you choose to water your lawn then do so in the early morning rather than at sunset. Late evening water cause the grass to stay moist and promotes disease activity. Water deeply and infrequently. One half inch twice a week is about right assuming it is not raining. Our typical summer rainfall is about 4 or 5 inches per month. Calibrate your sprinkler by placing a straight sided vessel such as a tuna fish can in range of the sprinkler. Time your sprinkler to see how long it takes to apply a half inch of water. Too little water will keep your grass roots on the surface of the ground leaving your lawn prone to quick burn-out. Too much water will drown the roots of your grass. Calibrate!
If you think you have a disease problem then you have two options. You can let nature take its course and reseed any dead areas that do not recover from the disease or you can apply fungicide to try and control the disease. Check with Roxbury Farm & Garden Center to see what is best for your situation.
Always check with the experts at Roxbury Farm & Garden Center. Many thanks and best of luck!