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Large patches of dead grass and dead roots

Posted by gaetanol z6NY (My Page) on
Sun, Apr 13, 08 at 8:00

I am facing something I have not seen in the 4 previous springs since I bought my house. I've gotten lots of great info from this site and I thought I had my lawn in good shape. It certainly looked fine at the end of last season.

My lawn is a mix of mostly KBG and PR, with some fescue. My problem is I have large patches of dead grass with varying characteristics:

I have some areas where the blades are all matted down and dried out looking. In these areas, I can just pull up the grass in clumps as if grubs ate the roots. But, when I check for grubs, I see only earch worms. Could this damage have been done by grubs over the winter? Could the grass somehow gotten smothered? Does this sound like snow mold?

In other areas, the blades just turned brown but they area not matted down. If I take this, the grass does not get pulled up in clumps, the dead blades just get pulled up individually.

I have other areas where it looks like moss is taking over and the grass is coming up in clumps (again, looks like dead roots). Does the moss kill the grass, or does something else kill the grass, then the moss takes over? Or, does the excess moisture both kill the grass roots and create an area for moss to thrive?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Large patches of dead grass and dead roots

What is your normal care routine? How often do you water, how often and how high do you mow, how often do you fertilize and with what? Do you have full sun or is shade involved?


That's weird. I hit the preview button and it posted my incomplete message. I had more questions.

Have you applied any insecticide, fungicide, or herbicide in the past year? If so, what were they?

RE: Large patches of dead grass and dead roots

Weekly cutting to ~ 3.5". I only water to supplement rain to give lawn ~1"/week. When I water, I do deep & infrequent. Last year I fertilized with inorganic w/Dimension just before the lilacs bloomed. Then with Milorganite ~6 weeks later. Then inorganic w/Dimension in the fall to try to head off this spring's poa.

The worst areas are shaded, so things stay somewhat wet (that's where the moss was worst). But, other areas are full sun (maybe a bit of a dip on an otherwise elevated area...maybe another site for water aggregation). The area with dry blades but no clumping is full sun. The area with matted grass that easily pulled up was also full sun.

Definately no fungicide. Two years ago I used grub preventer. Last year I saw no sign of grubs so I skipped it (I have 2 young children, so I was trying to keep pesticides to a minimum.

We had a warmish autumn, so it is possible that when my landscaper stopped cutting my lawn, there may have been a little more growth after that mixed with other conditions to cause these problems. Not a lot of snow, but things have been pretty wet (I'm in the north east, in a suburb of New York City).


RE: Large patches of dead grass and dead roots

Sounds like something familiar to me when I bought my house last summer. I had various areas where the grass looked like that. Upon digging up those spots, I found grubs...might not be your problem, but the result sounds similar.

RE2: Large patches of dead grass and dead roots

I just realized you checked for grubs and didn't find any. Mine were pretty apparent.

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