Alkali - Knowledgebase Question

Holtville, CA
Avatar for kaptnzog
Question by kaptnzog
May 31, 2007
Lawn has suddenly developed an alkali spot. Fertilizer(weed & feed) was applied 3 months ago and the lawn was coming along very well then without notice a portion began to yellow. After watching the sprinkler pattern it appeared these areas were getting insufficient water. After adjustment little changed. After mowing the yard in preparation to apply a mineral supplement(Ironite)it was then that I noticed an isolated area about 6ins in diameter about 6ft away from the other spots. The center is much darker than the surrounding soil and has almost a wet sheen and salt crystals around its perimeter which leads me to believe its alkali. I know the old tedious way of continualy watering to leach it out but with todays technology are there any chemical applications that will help speed the process along? I cant seem to find anything suitable.
Thanks for any advice you can supply.

Answer from NGA
May 31, 2007
It's really difficult to diagnose a lawn problem without actually seeing it! Based on your description, it sounds more like dog urine than anything else. Small yellow, pale green, or brown spots surrounded by dark green grass is a telltale sign of dog urine. Nitrogen in the urine can kill the grass (with resulting residue) and can darken the grass because of the nitrogen levels. Those spots are most likely to show up during hot and dry weather, or when lawns are under stress. Don?t bother with animal repellents; they?re of little or no use, according to the experts we interviewed. A motion-activated sprinkler system might help discourage droppings, but it won?t distinguish between dogs, deliverymen and welcome guests.

The remedy: Spots of dead grass will often repair themselves eventually. For a quicker fix, cut out the dead spot and fill it in with plugs cut from a strip of sod. Bring a clump from your lawn to the nursery to match grass types. Or wait until grass-planting time -- usually in the fall -- and sow fresh seed after clearing away the dead grass and loosening the soil.

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