Why am I seeing dead spots in my bermuda lawn this year?

This has been a record-breaking year in North Texas! On March 5th, we got the most snow in March since 1947. Then in May, we had 24 (out of 31) days of rain which made it the wettest in 117 years.

When we have what I like to describe as biblical weather, we tend to have biblical plagues (record amounts of crickets, grasshoppers, or in this year’s case strange dead patches in bermuda lawns.)

It is not unusual for us to see winter damage in St. Augustine (which is a tropical plant) lawns as they come out of dormancy. It is, however, very unusual to see our St. Augustine lawns happy and our bermuda lawns struggling a bit (with those strange dead patches.)

Our fertilizer supplier says he normally has the best looking lawn on his block. It is usually so nice that his neighbors often question him about how they can achieve the same results. This year he told me that his bermuda lawn has many of these same dead spots.

My theory on why we’re seeing these dead patches in bermuda for the first time is because we’ve never tried watering every two weeks in North Texas before. In fact, I’ve been wondering if eventually we would see damage from it; and I think we finally have.

I think the damage to the roots of the bermuda started when we were on these water restrictions, coupled with the record-breaking snow we received in early March (a time when bermuda would normally be coming out of dormancy in our area). These two factors combined into a perfect storm to create the dead spots in bermuda lawns we are seeing now.

Meanwhile, St. Augustine is doing great this year because of all the rain. Bermuda, on the other hand, hasn’t bounced back because we haven’t had enough warm weather for it to really take off and flourish.

The good news is bermuda is an aggressive plant; and if it has eight or more hours of sunlight, it will thrive. My recommendation is to be patient and let it fill back in on its own versus trying to re-sod those areas.

The one pattern I’ve seen repeatedly is that this type of damage often is in larger lawns and parkways (both of which are areas that couldn’t get enough water during the water restrictions.)

If you are seeing dead patches in your lawn, it wouldn’t hurt to double-check the sprinkler coverage in those areas to make sure there isn’t a clogged nozzle or a sprinkler that isn’t spraying correctly. Otherwise, I recommend being patient with your bermuda (while continuing to do everything in your control to ensure you have a healthy lawn this summer). If you are unsure of what you can do, I recommend you download my three-part series (The Secrets to a Healthy Lawn) on the Village Green Resource Center.

If you have questions or need help, give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com. If you haven’t already, please download and follow the free Village Green Watering Guide to make sure you are watering your lawn and landscape properly this summer.

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