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"Dead" Patches of Turf in Spring

Nimblewill from Afar
Nimblewill from Afar
Nimblewill Up Close
Nimblewill Up Close
Photos and Information by Zac Reicher

We have gotten a number of questions about apparently dead patches of turf in the shade next to buildings, under trees, and in other areas of the lawn. These patches could be due to a number of factors including snow mold or smothering from fallen tree leaves. Or these patches could be the normally slow green-up of various types of cool season grasses or warm season grasses like nimblewill or zoysia. Time, warming temperatures, and rainfall are the cures for most of these patches.

If these patches do not start to green up after the 3rd or 4th mowing, then you may have a warm season grass like zoysiagrass or nimblewill. Currently, these grasses are brown but they maintain their structural integrity with stiff leaves and stems during dormancy. These grasses will eventually green-up and blend with the rest of the turf. Some would classify these grasses as "weeds" and try to control them, but control is extremely difficult.

More information on controlling these grasses can be found at http://www.agry.purdue.edu/turf/publicat.htm under AY-11: Control of Perennial Weedy Grasses in Turf. On the other hand, if the patches do not green-up, and you have matted, lifeless-looking plants, your turf may have suffered some winterkill. The solution for this is to reseed, see earlier Turf Tips for more information.
4/13/01


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Last updated: 3 May 2001/tlm.
The Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University.