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Dry lawns may be beyond hope

ELKHART CO., Ind. -- These severe drought conditions have certainly done a number on our lawns.

That got us wondering... can the dead grass bounce back once we get some rain?

We talked with Jeff Burbrink, an expert from the Purdue University Extension Office in Elkhart County. What he had to say might shock you.

He told us that if your lawn looks dry and brown, and resembles hay, it's most likely dead. There will be no reviving it. However, the dead grass does help shade some of the grass that could still be alive underneath.

Burbrink said, "if you have a good quality well, you should be able to water your lawn." He knows a lot about the Michiana aquifer because he studies the subject to educate others such as farmers who depend on water for their crops.

He said, "compare to most of the world it (water) is very accessible." Even with the dry conditions Michiana has experienced he says there is plently of water supply under ground.

Elkhart County resident Fred Clemens took time out while filling his backyard pool to talk to ABC 57 about his lawn which now better resembles hay. "I'm concerned about the yard, we just kind of let it go and it got browner and browner," said Clemens. He wonders if there is any hope for his lawn to come back to life. He said he does have a sprinkling system, but he admits he hasn't used it in years.

Burbrink said, "After about five weeks the root system begins to dry out and after that root system dries out the grass begins to die. You have to remember though we are losing about a a half inch of water per day from evaporation, so if you put on a half inch of water- it's gone in 24 hours. Probably the best thing they could do now is to go out and give it about a half inch or 3/4 of an inch of water, if they don't want to be mowing, they just want to keep it alive."

Myron Bontreger who lives two houses down from Clemens said his yard is only 2 years old so he wants to spend the extra time watering so he doesn't risk the young grass. Plus he said he coaches soccer and holds practice and camps in his back yard and wants to keep the grass soft for the kids to play on. "Actually we run it (water system) at nighttime usually 12 midnight until about 8 or 9am the next morning." 

Burbrink suggests if you want your lawn to look like the Bontreger family and you haven't watered thus far, "then you'll be looking at re-seeding, sodding, something like that."



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