How to recover an underwatered lawn

Brown spots were popping up so I decided to measure my precipitation rate. The rotor zones had such a lower rate than the default that I must have been under watering for a long time. I’ve corrected the rate, but should I change the frequency at all to get things to green back up? I’m currently on flex daily.

I’m not sure what the correct answer is, but I ran into this problem last summer. The only thing I did after correcting the rate was to use the app and set each zone to “empty”. The lawn (fescue) recovered without any problems.

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What is your grass type? For my grass (Bermuda), I would be fine to just water as it should be. Over watering can be just as bad as under watering. If you over water, your grass will have to compete with weeds and disease.

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I have tall fescue, so I don’t know if that changes things. Lawn is a bit patchy and pretty weedy, though the grass outside the patches seems to be growing well (also fertilized recently). No signs of fungus when I checked.

I would think in general you don’t want to just water more to make up for patchy areas, especially since you corrected the problem… but i’ll let fescue people chime in if they want to

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You can help speed along the process with these four simple steps:
1 Water thoroughly.
2 Fertilize. After about two weeks of watering, use a broadcast spreader to apply a balanced fertilizer with proportions as close as possible to 4-1-2 for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
3 Kill weeds. Once the grass is growing strong, treat individual weeds—not the entire lawn—with an herbicide. By eliminating weeds, there will be more moisture and nutrients available for the grass. And as the lawn thickens, it’ll eventually crowd out the weeds on its own.
4 Return to routine maintenance. Resume your regular lawn-maintenance schedule, which should include consistent watering, mowing, thatch removal, and aeration.
driving directions

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Fertilized (29-0-4) at half rate to prevent burning 3 weeks ago, updated precipitate 2 weeks ago, have watered a couple times and also got rain. Still have similarly sized brown patches :frowning: . Will post a pic when I get the chance but what may be going on? This is frustrating!

In my neck of the woods, the biggest cause of brown spots on fescue this time of the year is from brown patch disease.

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Where are you located? I encountered the same thing with Rachio’s default of 1 inch per hour for rotors. I have written about this a number of times and do not why they don’t change it to the industry average of .5 inch. I would definitely try watering extra to bring it back. Here in Oklahoma, once fescue dies in spots during July and August, we must wait until fall to reseed. I feel bad for you.
Rachio, please change the the default precipitation to .5 inch per hour or provide a written explanation of why you are using 1 inch per hour. Does not add up.

@aristobrat I’m sure hoping it’s not that. The blades at least don’t have that patchy, fungusy look. Think aeration/top dressing/seeding in early fall may remedy it?

@robertokc I agree. It’s a bit annoying having set to the default thinking that all was OK and then finding otherwise! I’ve a fescue lawn in Long Island. Thankfully we’ve been getting a bit of rain lately so soil moisture catchup shouldn’t be a problem.

On Long Island the lawn will rebound, but reseeding during the fall, aeration and light layer of compost or peat moss to cover seeds will hasten germination.

So these are some pics of what I have going on in the back. Thoughts? On closer look, these grass blade spots worry me a little.

Would you say put the Compost after or before the seed? I’ve heard of risk of burying seeds to deep with doing the compost after. Would manure work just as well?

In the fall, aerate the lawn. Remove dead grass by raking if thatch or dead grass is severe. Apply blend of fescue and Kentucky bluegrass varieties for disease resistance. Buy seed sold at reputable seed supplier with the recommended varieties for Long Island. Avoid Scott’s or other Home Depot seed.
Apply a light cover (known as topdressing) of peat moss (My favorite) or compost. Fertilize with a starter fertilizer. Keep everything moist. About four short irrigation cycles a day. When all the seed is up, back off on watering. Mow when the grass reaches 3 inches tall. Cornell University should have some good turfgrass resources.

Thanks for the details! So this should hopefully address the potential fungus issue too without using fungicide? Would it be bad if I were to run my scarifier over the lawn now to try head off worsening of the condition (temperatures have been in the 80s)?

If you have turf disease, I would recommend Headway G, which is a commercial grade fungicide. It is not cheap, but is effective. If you do not apply control, you suffer the consequences until you reseed in the fall. Do you mean core aeration? I know when I lived in Massachusetts, my lawn service would typically offer this in the spring and early fall. Check with the Cooperative Extension Service in New York. Suffolk County:

Quite a few places to buy fungicide online. Here is one.

Fungicide link:

That is fungus, I would say leaf spot

You are going to need to use a fungicide. If headway is too expensive chlorothalinil is pretty effective against leaf spot

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I have one of these, with dethatching and scarifying attachments: . I believe fall is the recommended time around here to aerate. My soil seems to have gotten fairly compacted (the prior owners didn’t quite keep up with it).

Alas, at this stage Headway G is way out of my budget.

@plainsane That’s kind of what I was thinking as well. Looks like chlorthalonil will cover it (and everything else). However, I’ve been reading that the brand name, Daconil, is not for use on lawns? What’s up with that?

How do you like product?