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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - July 24, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Turf, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Problem with Habiturf. Is it dormant or dead?
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Mark Simmons

QUESTION:

We planted habiturf in spring 2012. It's beautiful. But since last summer, we have had one area that seems to go dormant much more rapidly than the rest, even though it receives the same amount of water, same treatments, no major difference in sunlight. Today, after a half inch of rain yesterday, this area has turned a deep brown, (never did this before) and now appears to be spreading. Any idea what's happening? Could you post close-up photos of what the dormant stage is supposed to look like? I have trouble distinguishing between "dead" and "dormant."

ANSWER:

I contacted Dr. Mark Simmons, Director of Ecosystem Design Group at the Lady Bird Johsnon Wildflower Center and chief researcher and developer of Habiturf™.  He has Habiturf™ on his own lawn. He says your problem sounds to him like dormancy.  He has a place on his lawn that goes dormant early even though it gets water at the same rate as the rest of the lawn.  The reason that it goes dormant is that there is a large piece of limestone underneath that section so the soil doesn't hold moisture as well.  He doesn't think it is disease.  If it is, it would be a first since there have been no reports of die-off thus far.  Recovery from dormancy can take up to 10 days with available moisture.  At present, Dr. Simmons is out of town but he will try to post photos of dormant grass when he is back at the Wildflower Center.

 

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