Wet and Flooded Turf – Turfgrass Science at Purdue University

Wet and Flooded Turf

Wet Lawns
Although July has been relatively dry thus far, June brought a great deal of rain and left many lawn soils saturated and wet. Here are a few tips concerning caring for your lawn during wet periods.

Flooded Turf
Due to the incredible amount of rain Indiana has seen this summer, many homeowners are managing turfgrass systems in flooded areas. Lawns that have been submerged in water have been deprived of both oxygen and light and tend to have a weak, blue-gray appearance when they dry out. Also, in areas where a large body of water has flowed over a lawn, there may be silt residue covering the leaf blades. 
In flooded lawns, you can use a garden hose to rinse the soil from the leaf blades. Additionally, lightly rake the area for the next few weeks to encourage new growth and recovery in the lawn. Aerifying previously flooded areas can also help to dry out the surface of the lawn and allow air movement into and out of the soil. Also, to encourage new growth, you can apply nitrogen fertilizer.

Mowing Wet Turf
Generally speaking, it is better to mow your lawn when the leaf blades are dry than when wet. Grass clippings can clump together to clog mowers when the lawn is wet. Also, mowing a wet lawn can leave unsightly lawnmower tire tracks and the tires compact the soil and bring additional moisture to the surface.
However, due to the extremely wet start to the summer, it is not always possible to mow the lawn when it is dry. There are a few things homeowners can do to improve the aesthetic appearance of lawns that must be mowed during moist conditions.
First of all, lawnmower blades should be sharp to ensure a quick, clean cut. Blades should also be set to the highest mowing height to discourage clipping clumping (wet grass clippings tend to stick together in soggy clumps). Also, underneath the mower deck should cleared free of any residual clippings and debris from previous mowings. If you have to mow a wet lawn, mow a second time shortly after in a different pattern than the first to alter the track path and minimize tracks in the lawn.

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