With the drought abating in many parts of the state, we’ve seen lawns begin to green up. However, after the severe stretch of drought, nearly every lawn is expected to have some areas where the grass has died. These dead patches were likely undesirable species of grass, areas with very poor soil underneath, or weakened by another stress before or during the drought.
Southern Wisconsin has had a prolonged period of very hot and dry conditions. Many parts of the state have seen little or no rain in at least 30 days. Kentucky bluegrass is the dominant species of grass growing on Wisconsin’s lawns. Fortunately, it is extremely tolerant of these conditions and can survive periods up to and even beyond 60 days without water. Kentucky bluegrass survives by allowing its leaves to die, but keeping its “crown” alive. The crown is the tiny part of the plant where the grass blades meet the roots. It is so small, that it requires only a minute quantity of water to survive. However, at some point, it too will die. Fine fescue and perennial ryegrass are fairly common components of lawn seed mixtures. While fine fescue can survive the drought as well or better than Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrasses are probably near death. The good news is that our winters usually kill perennial ryegrass, so most lawns don’t have large populations of it.
Read the full article from Doug Soldat, Turfgrass Extension Specialist, UW-Extension/UW-Madison.