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I have noticed quite a few brown areas in lawns in the Salt Lake area, including my own.

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"I have noticed quite a few brown areas in lawns in the Salt Lake area, including my own. I have tried to be water-wise when watering my lawn. Every 3 days, I water after the sun goes down or after 6 pm in shaded areas only. The settings were max 15 minutes and I recently added another 5 minutes. But the brown areas aren't showing any significant improvement. My neighbor waters more often than I and her lawn has a huge brown area that appeared in the last couple of weeks. Another neighbor said it was because there is some kind of insect infesting the lawns in the area but I have also heard it is because of the early onset of the hot days. I know if the problem is the heat I will just have to wait it out. But if it is insects, what do I do?"

The brown areas that you are seeing in your lawn are to be expected given the temperatures we are currently experiencing here in Utah. You are to be commended for your water-wise irrigating, but even if you were to pour the water on right now, it is still very likely that you would have brown areas. The reason for this is that the cool-season grasses we typically grow here in Utah are not well-adapted to the current high temperatures. Rest assured, however, that even though you may have brown areas, the grass is not dead. It is only becoming dormant in order to protect itself from heat and drought. In the fall, as the temperatures cool off, grass will revive and become green again. In fact, you could apply as little as 1" of water per month right now and the grass would still be fine in the fall. This is known as survival watering because it keeps the crown (where growth originates) of the grass plants alive even though the leaves are dormant. It is most likely that your problem is heat related, but if you are concerned about insects, I would encourage you to take a sample of your lawn into your Utah State University County Extension Office for examination. The sample should include 2-3" of soil as well as the grass.

Posted on 12 Sep 2006

Nancy Mesner
Program Leader, Water quality Specialist

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