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Turf: Dead or alive?

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: August 16, 2012

Wondering whether your browned-out turf is dead or just dormant? Ohio State University scientists have some good guidance for gauging the health of your lawn in the latest issue of the Buckeye Yard and Garden Line.

Here's what they say:

"Before declaring the turf as 'brown and out' get down and dirty and look at the crowns of the individual grass plants. In some cases, the upper portions of the turf may be dead but the crowns may still be viable. Pull up a few plants and tease apart the crowns at the base. Healthy but dormant tissue will be white and succulent; new green growth may be present. Dead crowns will be brown, straw-like or punky throughout."

What's the crown? It's the place where the grass stems and leaves meet the roots.

If the turf is dead and needs reseeding, don't apply weed killers to the lawn in the next few weeks, especially pre-emergent herbicides. They can keep grass seeds from germinating, the scientists caution.

Buckeye Yard and Garden Line is a weekly newsletter containing information from OSU Extension educators, specialists and other contributors. You can request to receive it by email.

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