Master Gardener: Tips for a lush, green lawn |

Master Gardener: Tips for a lush, green lawn

Penney Adams/For Steamboat Pilot & Today

For more details

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We field many questions at the Master Gardener desk in the Routt County Extension Office, but one of the most common is “Why do I have dry brown spots on my lawn?”

The following are a few topics to consider.


Even with a sprinkler system, the area in question may not be getting enough water. Place small cans (a cat food can is ideal) around your lawn including the area of brown spots, turn on your sprinkler for a half hour and then measure the amount of water in each can. The issue may be solved with a simple sprinkler head adjustment.

How often to water your lawn greatly depends on the condition of your soil. Is it clay or sandy? When you water, it is widely recommended that you water your lawn early in the morning or late in the evening to reduce evaporation. Please keep in mind the current watering restrictions. Details found can be found at

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Ideal lawn height

It is recommended that you set your mower on a 2 1/2- to 3-inch mowing height. This length will protect the grass from scorching.

Mowing frequency 

You should not be cutting more than a third of the length of the grass at a time, which may mean mowing every three to four days during the active growing season.


High traffic areas or thatch buildup can compact the soil, limiting the amount of water and nutrients reaching the grass roots. Aerating the area may be beneficial. This is generally recommended once or twice a year.


Ideally, you should fertilize your lawn twice a year depending on the type of grass you have. Over time, a lawn will lose nutrients. Nitrogen is the most important nutrient for your lawn to promote growth and a nice green color.

When reading the lawn fertilizer label, it is good to know there are three numbers that represent the percentage of each nutrient in the mix.  The first number is the amount of nitrogen, which greens the grass; the second number is the amount of phosphate, which promotes root development; and the third is the amount of potash for overall plant health.

Grass clippings are rich in nitrogen so it may be beneficial to leave them on the lawn as mulch. A soil pH test can tell you if your lawn is nutrient deficient.


Dog urine can cause brown spots in lawns. Increase watering of this area to dilute the effect of the urine. You should be sure your dog drinks plenty of water to also dilute the affect of the urine. Ideally, train your pet to use an inconspicuous area.

Insect or disease problem

These issues are not common in our semi-dry climate but they are possible. Seek the advice of an expert before using insecticides.

And remember, you can always come by the Routt County Extension office Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to speak with a Master Gardener. You can also contact 970-870-5241 or

If you are practicing proper lawn care and maintenance, you should have a lawn you want to put your toes in this summer.

Penney Adams moved here last June from Hilton Head, South Carolina and started the Master Gardener program in January. She is an apprentice Master Gardener until she completes her 50 volunteer hours.

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