Dry patches that are hard to re-wet are the primary causes of lawn failure. If a lawn is renovated, it is always these long lasting dry areas that are the root cause of any seed failing to germinate and establish in these well marked and visual areas. You may notice a darkening halo on parts of the lawn, visible from the upstairs window. This is a good indicator that the soil underneath is starting to or has dried out.
This little known phenomenon is not only related to drought conditions but even if you are watering the lawn on a regular basis all throughout the year, some areas will still never become wet naturally to a depth, thus promoting grass growth in these areas. The surface of these areas will become dry and crusty and thatchy and be void of grass that cannot grow without water.
A Wetting Agent is used to alleviate localised ‘Dry Patch’ areas on a lawn or grass area. These areas have appeared because the soil-acting bacteria have made the soil hydrophobic (repelling water) and until you can get these areas wet again, nothing will grow. Trying to wet an old bathroom sponge, almost impossible.
A by-product of their activity in breaking down thatch in the lawns surface is a waxy substance that coats the soil particles, thus preventing them absorbing available water. It is important to get the lawns surface wet to a depth and consistently even across the complete surface area of the lawn to aid uniform growth and colour and make treatments effective. The Wetting Agent or Surfactant will reduce the surface tension of the water droplet and make water wetter making it easier to be absorbed into the soil and break down the waxy coating surrounding some of the soil particles. It is particularly good at reducing the activity of Fairy Rings by enabling you to get the soil in the immediate and not so immediate proximity of the fairy ring wet again. It is a liquid detergent that is safe to use on grass of a minimal salt content. Wetting Agents are available as a tablet that can be applied via a hose end diluter (like the Miracle Grow one shown) or in a liquid or granular form.
Please follow this programme to eradicate Dry Patch –
Apply once an evening in the first week – Curative
Apply once a week for the remaining weeks of the first month – Curative
Apply once a month thereafter between March and September – Preventative
If the grass trying to grow in these dry patch areas is dead, it is unlikely to come back if it is totally dead so some localised over sowing will be required. Nothing will grow in the garden without water!
So if you have an area of your lawn that is failing to respond to fertiliser applications, over seeding and some general renovation and tlc, then it is probably a Dry Patch problem. Get the soil wet again and you should be able to grow grass in these areas once again. I use mine for general plant watering too and also for getting wet dog urine burns on the lawn just prior to and after seeding.
Turf Managers will apply a Wetting Agent to their turf monthly during the period March to September, often with a Seaweed soil conditioner as a tank mixture. Making an application of a Wetting Agent to the turf way ahead before the soil dries out as a result of drought, will make any available water applied as a result of artificial irrigation or natural rainfall, will make the water wetter and ensure the even penetration of that water down through the soil profile.
It is possible to obtain a liquid wetting agent that can be dispensed via a side dispenser into the irrigation system. The products are safe for plants and you will in fact require less water as the wetting agent makes water wetter, making it possible to penetrate dry soils easier. They are quite effective products, one litre can treat 18 golf greens for example so if an irrigation system has a 100-litre diluter, you would only require a small quantity each month to be dispensed around the garden. Localised problematic areas should be treated by hand to cure the problem as irrigation systems do not always provide 100% coverage across a lawn. This can be achieved via a hose diluter and Wetting agents are also available in a granular form that is incorporated following aeration via a rotary fertiliser spreader. They can be applied diluted with water as a liquid spray via a knapsack sprayer too. Larger tablets the size of a small bucket can be introduced to the water inflow of an irrigation water storage tank.
If you have dying areas of grass on your lawn or areas that just will not grow, put your gardening knife into firstly a green area after watering or rainfall and then the problem area and cut out a small cube of lawn and you will notice that the dead or problem area is dust dry, much unlike the green area. Apply a wetting agent to these problem areas to solve the problem, but follow the procedure mentioned above.