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How to Help Your Lawn Recover After A Flood
Clear DebrisFirst, gather up and remove any loose debris that may have been deposited on your lawn during the flood. Be cautious though. Some materials may be hazardous, such as broken glass and jagged metal. Also wear gloves and wash thoroughly after cleaning up debris since it may be contaminated with toxic or contaminated water. After removing the larger debris, let your lawn sit for a few days until it’s dry enough to walk around on. Failure to let it dry sufficiently will result in a muddy mess.
Remove Silt, Aerate, FertilizeMost lawn grasses will survive submersion in floodwater for up to four days. Survivability depends on grass species, temperatures, time of year, lawn health prior to flooding and how much silt was deposited on the lawn during the flood. First, spray off as much silt as possible from your grass using a pressure washer or garden hose. Any remaining silt will need to be broken up by raking vigorously with a steel garden rake. After removing and raking the silt, you should core aerate if possible to help the soil dry out. Follow this with an application of quick-release fertilizer at a rate of ½ pound nitrogen per 1000 square feet. While I usually encourage organic fertilizer instead of quick-release types, in this situation a lawn needs a quick boost of nitrogen to help it recover as quickly as possible.
Reseeding vs. Starting OverFor lawns that were submerged for more than four days or were covered with more than an inch of silt, the survival rate is slim. In these cases, remove as much silt as possible as soon as possible after the flood, core aerate and fertilize. After this, observe your lawn carefully for the next few weeks. If more than 60% of it is recovering, you can do a partial renovation by reseeding the bare areas in the late spring or early summer. If less than 40% of the lawn has recovered it would be more economical to do a complete renovation of the lawn by removing all remaining grass and tilling any extra plant material into the soil. Take this opportunity to test and improve the soil pH, add organic amendments and apply an organic starter fertilizer. You also have the opportunity to pick a different grass seed type as your lawn, if you so choose.