winter yellow patches appeared on my lawn, which eventually turned
brown. Now the surrounding grass is growing well, but the lawn looks
unsightly. Can you tell me what the problem is and how I can fix
your photo it looks like the dead-looking patches are kikuyu grass
that has been killed off by heavy frost, while the surrounding greener
areas are ryegrass which is more tolerant of cold weather. In warm
parts of the country, many established lawns contain kikuyu, which
has moved in as a weed and, depending on the conditions, can become
the dominant grass in the lawn.
Of African origin, kikuyu
is frost tender and can be knocked back quite severely in winter,
leading to the patchy symptoms you describe. The good news is it
will recover as the weather warms up. The kikuyu stolons (creeping
stems) usually survive the winter and start sprouting again in spring,
but it may take a few months before your lawn is back to normal
You could break up the
soil in the bare patches with a rake and sow a small amount of fresh
lawn grass seed, which should germinate quickly in the next few
weeks to fill up the bare areas.
Kikuyu is often considered
a weed because of its tendency to spread into garden borders and
up fencelines, but on the upside is its ability to survive summer
drought, wear and tear and poor mowing practices better than many
of the so-called "quality" lawn grasses.
Gardener, Issue 202, 2006, Page 31
Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.