By MARY HIGHTOWER | U of A System Division of Agriculture
If you’re suffering from lawn envy, comparing your brown yard to the green one next door, take a closer look, said Wendell Hutchens, assistant professor-turfgrass science for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
“If your neighbor’s ‘bermudagrass’ or ‘zoysiagrass’ lawn is fully green this time of year, then it is very likely that the lawn is mostly weeds, specifically winter annual weeds such as chickweed and henbit,” Hutchens said.
Weather may have a hand in the brown area that is your lawn, he said.
“This winter was a doozy,” Hutchens said. “Lots of untimely bitterly cold temperatures and high winds leading to one of the most severe outbreaks of winterkill in the last 20 years.
“It is not surprising that warm-season grass lawns such as bermudagrass, zoysiagrass and centipedegrass have not fully greened up yet or are very injured,” he said.
“We had a very dry summer in 2022 leading into a cold winter followed by a cool, wet spring,” Hutchens said. “These combined factors have created a perfect storm for delayed warm-season grass green up, and a lot of winterkill caused by extreme sub-freezing temperatures and high winds over the winter.”
Hutchens said that unfortunately, there’s little that could be done to prevent the damage seen this spring, but does have some helpful tips on dealing with winterkill.
Best lawn advice
“My best advice is to be patient, take a soil test, fertilize and water sufficiently this spring and summer, and hope for good weather,” he said. “All of these best practices in conjunction will make for a faster recovery and a healthier lawn by the end of the summer. Fingers crossed for good weather this year! However, if your lawn does not begin to recover soon, it may be worth investing in sod, sprigs, or seed to re-establish turfgrass in the bare areas.”
Other conditions that could affect lawn green up are shade, lack of adequate water, or maybe last year’s weed control project, Hutchens said.
“Did you start treating your lawn with herbicides in the past year and now it looks like you do not have much green left in your lawn?” he asked. “This is quite common as many lawns that have not been historically intensively managed will often have high weed populations and very little turfgrass underneath all of those weeds.
“When you begin taking care of the grass and not the weeds, the weeds die and there is only a little grass left over,” Hutchens said. “No need to fear, though. With enough maintenance, the grass will fill in and replace those ugly weeds.”
To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.