Whether or not you have a drought-stricken lawn, it's extremely helpful to know how to identify and treat dying grass. If you live in an apartment, pass the knowledge on to some home owners you know! I believe this information will be very valuable this year.
Dead or Alive?
The first thing that must be done before treatment is decided upon, is to determine the condition of your grass. Other than healthy (green), grass can be in two other states - dormant, or dead. You'll need to kneel down for this one. Inspect the individual leaves; if your grass is dead, it'll be brown through to the roots. There's basically nothing you can do besides reseed or lay sod. If the leaves are brown but the crown is green the grass is dormant and you can proceed with this article.
Since we're hypothetically in a drought, most places ban water use during that. Here are some ways to save your dormant lawn without water:
- Remove Thatch (dead plant matter) from the grass.
- Keep mowing as necessary, not removing more than 1/3 of the grass' length.
- Sharpen mower blades. Dull blades can pull and rip grass, murdering instead of giving it a haircut.
- Don't bag grass clippings if your lawn doesn't need de-thatching. Make sure the living grass can still breathe.
- Use an aerator to punch holes in the lawn. This allows moisture a more direct route to the grass' root system.
- Last but not least, keep off the lawn. The last thing weak grass needs is a human to crush it to death.
Once the drought subsides (if ever), the first thing you'll need to do is water your lawn. The best time to do this is early morning. After two weeks of watering, use a balanced fertilizer (4-1-2 for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) on the lawn. After that, kill weeds individually with a herbicide, then return to your regular lawn maintenance.
Good luck with your lawn this summer!