Dave81NJ
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What's going on with this lawn?

Please help me identify what is going on with this lawn. It gets watered 2-3 times a week now. It had 3 applications out of 6 so far and we did put Milorganite 3 weeks ago.

These brown patches have been visible for the past 4-5 weeks now I believe and getting bigger as we get more sunny days.

Location is Wayne, NJ (Northern NJ)
Thank you
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PaulF
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Re: What's going on with this lawn?

As you stated, it a fungal disease called "Brown Patch". Some turf cultivars are more susceptible than others. Good lawn practices are the best prevention: mowing at the right height, watering but not too much, returning the clippings to the turf during mowing, not applying too much high nitrogen fertilizer during the hot months. A fungicide application, according to the instructions will help get rid of the fungus.

Sometimes removing the brown patch and overseeding in the fall will do the most to prevent it next year. If New Jersey has a state extension, they could recommend the right fungicide and seed variety for your area.
Paul F

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rainbowgardener
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Re: What's going on with this lawn?

If you live in an area where you get some summer rains, watering the lawn three times a week is a whole lot.

The more you water and fertilize, the more you have to mow!! Just making more work and energy consumption for yourself.

Personally, I never water lawn. I use enough water just keeping veggie beds and flower beds watered. In the height of summer, the grass will go dormant that way and since I also don't use any herbicidal poisons, my "lawn" is a mixture of grass and clover and weeds. But kept mowed it looks as flat and green as anyone else's.
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Dave81NJ
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Re: What's going on with this lawn?

rainbowgardener wrote:If you live in an area where you get some summer rains, watering the lawn three times a week is a whole lot.

The more you water and fertilize, the more you have to mow!! Just making more work and energy consumption for yourself.

Personally, I never water lawn. I use enough water just keeping veggie beds and flower beds watered. In the height of summer, the grass will go dormant that way and since I also don't use any herbicidal poisons, my "lawn" is a mixture of grass and clover and weeds. But kept mowed it looks as flat and green as anyone else's.
Thanks but I did that last summer and my lawn got destroyed.

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applestar
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Re: What's going on with this lawn?

Yes well you do need to find the happy medium.
My impression is that it does rain a bit more in north jersey than here, especially if you are along the Valley Forge - Trenton corridor.

But deep-watering to foster deeper roots is something to consider. How far down does the water get when you water those three times? The browned dry thatch blocks the water so you need to water longer to get it to reach soil and roots. What is your watering method and for how long? What do you use to measure the amount of water?
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Dave81NJ
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Re: What's going on with this lawn?

What about de-thatching? I've never done it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNklBrBxY2k

PaulF
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Re: What's going on with this lawn?

I would not de-thatch. Rake out the dead and diseased grass and roots and dispose but not into a compost pile. Air flow to the area to discourage the fungus. Aeration when it gets cooler in the fall and reseeding the area would work best.
Paul F

imafan26
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Re: What's going on with this lawn?

Deep watering is better. If you deep water twice a week it would be better than watering every other day. How long to water depends on your soil type. A soil probe or auger is a good way to tell how deep you are watering. If you don't have anything like that you can dig down with a trowel and see how far down the water reaches after watering. 4-6 inches would be good. Test after a couple of days and water again when the deep soil is almost dry. You can tell if grass needs water. When you step on it and it springs back it does not need water yet. If it takes time to spring back or it leaves a footprint it is time to water again. If the blades start curling up, you have watered too long
Aerating, dethatching and top dressing in the spring and the fall is a good idea on older grass. Thatch layers greater than 1/2 inch can keep water from penetrating and leave a lot of dead roots near the surface. Dethatching removes the dead grass and opens up the space so more air can get in and water can penetrate.

If you have problems with this lawn every year, it may be that you really don't have the right grass for your situation and you maybe should ask the local landscapers what grass would be best for your area and also ask them how to take care of it. Do ask for a turf that is low maintenance unless you like to mow every week or two. Sometimes it is better to get a lawn service to install the grass and sprinkler system and contract them to take care of the grass for at least the first year. It is better to be nice to them and appreciate their knowledge and not be a hands off kind of guy, after a year of learning from them, you will either have to continue the service or do it yourself.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Dave81NJ
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Re: What's going on with this lawn?

So, folks, everyone who said it's fungus is correct. :-)
I had a lawn care company come out this morning to look at the lawn. The guy did confirm fungicide and some dollar spots.

His treatment plan;
Suggested to not use fungicide. Note that this company's name has the word "Organic" in it and they do get a ton of great reviews. He said lawn needs more nitrogen (doesn't fungicide has a ton of nitrogen?) and that will fix the fungus issue. Didn't give any guarantees but did say I should give it 2-3 weeks before it gets better.

So my question is ... why not treat it with fungicide control and cover an entire lawn with it? Or trust them and let them take care of it?

They do 6-8 LIQUID only applications and as he said, by using liquid they don't just open a bag of Scotts and apply, instead, they mix the liquid so that it's appropriate for this time of year and the type of grass. The guy did sound very knowledgeable about trees. :-)

P.S. For about $87/application times 7-8 per season, unlike my current lawn cutting guy who charges $75/per, they also do weed and crab grass spraying.

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Re: What's going on with this lawn?

Just a guess but, a fungicide might disrupt beneficial fungi and the natural soil composition. The soil is alive and fungi are an important part of the soil.

The article linked above was written by someone with over 25 years in the commercial gardening industry. Here's a quote:
What Mycorrhizal Fungi Are

Mycorhizii are different species of fungi that help a plant with different tasks; some help with water uptake, some with making fertilizer available, some with gas exchange, etc. They require organic content in the soil, but in exchange help your perennials to grow and flourish. Some strains are better for flowers, some for shrubs, some for evergreens, so make sure you get the right strains.
When you have the right kind of fungi it helps to crowd out the kind you don't like. Destroying all of them with a fungicide is likely not the best approach.

Mushrooms/fungi are generally a sign of healthy soil. :wink:

imafan26
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Re: What's going on with this lawn?

Established grass usually only needs nitrogen. How much? depends on your soil and the form the nitrogen is in. Nitrogen does need to be applied at the right time and in the right amounts. Too much will cause more thatch and less water penetration and in summer you would have to water it a lot to keep up with the growth.

I think one of the reasons he is probably recommending more nitrogen is because the grass itself was probably a little under fertilized. Milorganite does not have a lot of readily available nitrogen. Grass is a heavy feeder. Ultimately healthy plants can compete and recover faster than unhealthy ones. There are both good and bad fungi in the soil and if you encourage the growth of the good fungi, it will keep the bad ones in control. I also suspect the landscaper is using a fertilizer that is going to promote the soil web. Aerating and adding organic matter in the Spring and fall can help as well. Liquid fertilizer will usually give you faster results.

If you don't really know much about how to prepare the soil and select the best turf for the site. It is sometimes better to get a landscaper who knows how to prep the soil install sprinklers and recommend a turf appropriate for your yard. People often choose grass because of their looks and texture but it may not be the best grass for them. Contracting the landscaper to take care of the grass for the first year is good, because that is when the turf will need the most attention. It will also be your time to get friendly with the landscaper and learn all you can about what you will need to do to keep it looking good. It is especially important that you know when and how much to water. New turf will need to be watered more than an established one. It is usually cheaper in the long run to have a contract landscaper than just a one time deal.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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