Turf damaged from mowing traffic

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.

In my recent travels around mid- and southeast Michigan, I was surprised by the amount of turf damage I observed from mowing traffic on drought-stressed turf. (see photo) Thinking back about one week, the weather was just right for this type of damage to occur. Prior to this week’s rainfall, the dry conditions and then very hot temperatures on Friday and Saturday resulted in many areas of turf, even irrigated areas, being stressed and possibly wilting. Combine those conditions with the fact that many folks end up mowing their lawns on Saturday, set the stage for what we’re seeing now. In some cases you’ll see single tire tracks from the mower that look like you had RoundUp on the tires. In other cases where there might have been traffic in addition to mowing, the pattern may be less defined. Often on golf courses you will see this type of damage on turf areas where golf cart traffic is concentrated.

Due to the recent rainfall and cooler temperatures, I would expect most of these damaged turf areas to bounce back quickly with new growth. To avoid this type of turf damage in the future, avoid mowing during the hottest part of the day or when you notice that the turf is looking like it’s under drought/heat stress.

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