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K-State Turf and Landscape Blog

Tag: roots

Beware localized dry spot in putting greens – exacerbated by hot, dry winds

Summer is really here now, with fireflies, trips to the swimming pool, and … hot south winds to suck the moisture out of the ground. In sand-based putting greens, localized dry spot can pop up FAST, causing major damage in a short period of time.

Here is what localized dry spot can look like:

Keep an eye on your soil profile so you can stop this damage before it starts. When you get damage to the extent shown in those two photos above it is a long road to recovery.

To check for localized dry spot, pull up some cores and use the “droplet test” by putting drops of water on the plug. If the drops just sit there, not wicking in, you have a problem. The soil is water-repellent.

Sometimes there is a defined hydrophobic layer with normal soil above and/or below, so check at different depths, all the way down the rootzone:

You might also notice water beading up on the surface and not wicking in.

You don’t want this to sneak up on you. Keep an eye on your soil profile, especially locations with a history of problems. Aerification and use of wetting agents can help get moisture where it needs to go.

This example below shows how a slight change in the rootzone can cause problems. The round spots are all locations where the soil was altered for research, with little mini-plots inside tubes sunk into the ground. These spots are prone to LDS. We all know that putting greens are pretty sensitive, so be careful if you are changing up your sand topdressing or other soil-related factors.

A not-so-obvious site issue

I mentioned this last week in a post about brown patch (click HERE if you missed it) but forgot to post a picture:

What’s going on here? This is part of my yard. I have heavy clay soils, and though it’s not obvious from the photo, this is a slight depression area where water sits for awhile after rain. Wet heavy soils = compromised roots. Compromised roots = areas that area quicker to check out during summer heat and drought.

We’ve seen this with trees, shrubs, and flowers this year too. We got some big rainfalls earlier in summer that damaged root systems. As long as weather was mild, the plants chugged along okay on those compromised roots. However, as soon as stress kicks in, those compromised roots can’t support the plant as well, and we see some decline.

In my lawn there, it is that same area year after year that shows the problem. Come autumn (and milder temps) it usually recovers pretty well.

**After posting, someone asked about the solution. If possible, improving the overall flow/drainage by changing the grade might be an option. Here, there’s just isn’t enough slop to play with in order to do that. Another way to improve root health and drainage is through core aerification. The best time to do that in cool-season lawns is in the fall.**