EXTENSION CONNECTION: Don’t blame pests for dry lawn

Published: Monday, June 3, 2013 at 06:23 PM.

When we have a dry period in spring or summer, I get predictable calls about some mysterious pest wreaking havoc on lawns.

However, the dry spots callers describe actually result from an irrigation system’s imperfections, revealed following inadequate rain. During sufficient rainfall, rain masks the irrigation system’s imperfections.

The cause for dry spots may be as simple as a maladjusted spray head, a broken spray head, a plugged nozzle, a tree trunk or tall shrub blocking the water, or grass that has grown over a pop-up spray head.

There may be too few sprinkler heads for adequate coverage, insufficient pressure to operate each zone, an incorrect choice of nozzles or wrongly mixing rotors with spray heads on the same zone.

The homeowner may easily fix some problems, but others require a licensed irrigation contractor’s expertise.

These tests can help confirm whether problem areas result from lack of water versus some mysterious pest.

●Take a soil sample in the root zone. Remove a slice of soil 6-8 inches deep with a shovel. Feel the sample for moisture. Do the same in an adjacent area of the lawn that looks normal, and compare the difference. It should be obvious if there’s a difference in moisture between tested areas.

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