Does Grass Actually Die? Dead Die?

missmarySeptember 18, 2007

So, I have this wooded backyard that has never before had a "real", cultivated lawn. The previous owner liked a bed of leaves, so we spent July and August raking up 15 years of them. But, actually, last spring, when we bought the house there were patches of sparse green grass growing in the cleared section, between the woods and the house.

By the time the end of Aug/beginning of Sept came, and I was in final stages of preparing the soil, and then seeding, those patches of spring green grass had become thin blades of dried up grass; looking straw like. I figured it was dormant, and that it'd green up once it felt the effects of the starter fertilizer I'd put down(for the seeds), and started watering.

Now I have nice green grass coming up, but those blades of straw-y grass are STILL just blades of straw-y grass.

So, it is really just dead grass? In my experience, grass that turns dry and strawy looking over a summer drought is really just dormant. Is this grass that actually died??? I had expected it to perk back up and join the grass from my seeding effort. Now I have to deal with these patches of dried grass amongst my new "grasses".

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Yes, grass can die for a number of reasons, and the type of grass might determine the likelihood. For example, tall fescue can endure more heat and drought than bluegrass before dormancy, but that heat and drought can be such that tall fescue is unable to withstand while in a dormant state and not return, whereas bluegrass is more likely to be able to break dormancy and return. Once tall fescue is gone, it's really gone. Bluegrass is better able to recuperate. But, that's just comparing bluegrass and tall fescue.

This being a wooded area I would expect is too shady for heat and drought to be so detrimental. You might look into there being other causes. It could be disease or could simply be the fact that it's too shady and unable to support ground cover that needs sunlight.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 11:30PM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

Bestlawn has some good advice. The prior homeowner may have "liked" leaves after discovering it was too shady for lawn grasses.

Of course, there are groundcovers that do well in less sunlight, such as woodland type environments. You might want to do some checking for what kinds do well in your area and experiment with those if your efforts with grass don't succeed.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 8:09AM
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And it just may be poa annua. The dreaded POA. Sprouts up in the spring, dies in July. And there it is, dead. It will be back in the spring, and it will be on the same timetable.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 2:57PM
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