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Lawn dry spots may lead you to plant sale or clinic

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Dry spots are the result of imperfections in an irrigation system. They’re revealed during extended dry weather. During times of adequate rainfall, rain masks the irrigation system’s imperfections.

Most years, May brings dry, hot weather. And, during dry periods, many people wrongly blame pests for dry spots in their lawns.

Dry spots are the result of imperfections in an irrigation system. They’re revealed during extended dry weather. During times of adequate rainfall, rain masks the irrigation system’s imperfections.

Two simple tests can help confirm that the problem areas are to be blamed on lack of water versus some mysterious pest.

First, check affected areas by taking a soil sample in the root zone. Take a slice of soil with a shovel to a depth of six to eight inches. Visually inspect and feel the soil in the root area for moisture. Do the same in an adjacent area of the lawn that looks normal and compare the difference. It should be obvious if there’s a difference in moisture between the areas tested.

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The second test involves placing several empty straight-sided cans (such as tuna cans) in the affected area and several in a normal area of the lawn. Then turn on irrigation system and let it run long enough to collect some water in the cans. Compare amounts of water collected in the two areas. Again, it should be obvious if there’s a difference in the quantity of water applied in the areas tested.

These tests are cheaper, less trouble and more environmentally friendly as compared to purchasing and applying pesticides for nonexistent pests. Many people treat for mole crickets, a disease or other lawn pests as a result of incorrectly diagnosing the problem.

If you’re not sure about your diagnosis, bring a fresh 4-inch square of grass with roots attached taken from the edge of the affected area to our Plant Clinic on Friday, May 11 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Extension Annex located at 127 NW Hollywood Blvd. in Fort Walton Beach. The sample should be taken from the transition area (where the grass is beginning to die), including some dead and live grass with roots attached.

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Finally, if you’re dissatisfied with your lawn, you may want to replace part of it with appropriate plants other than lawn grass. One place to obtain such plants is at the Okaloosa County Master Gardeners’ Spring Plant Sale.

This plant sale will take place rain or shine indoors at same address as the Plant Clinic, 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday, May 5.

There will be a great selection of plants, including hard-to-find, Florida-friendly varieties.

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Proceeds will be used by Okaloosa County Master Gardeners in providing their educational programs for the public.

Larry Williams is the Extension horticulture agent with the Okaloosa County Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida. Contact Larry at 689-5850 or email lwilliams@myokaloosa.com

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