BOULDER – After all the wet snow and rain, as the weather warms, you might notice ragged patches in the lawn. Perhaps it’s the lingering ravages of last summer’s heat, or that small problem that’s gotten larger each year; where once you could ignore it, now it sticks out like a sore thumb.

If you were wondering, yes, your neighbors are judging your lawn.  This odd phenomenon alternately amuses and baffles me, but this year, I find myself on the receiving end of stares, tsk-tsking, and small headshakes of disapproval as neighbors walk by.  Even their dogs turn up their noses at the horror that has become our south lawn. Thank heavens my boss doesn’t stop by or he’d seriously wonder why he pays me to do what I do for a living.

He needn’t worry.  We’re getting ready for a renovation, so I know what I’m doing: I’m letting the lawn languish while I make plans for it to become a better fit for our lives. Its downsizing and sculpting will make for
a more efficient sprinkler design.    

If you’re looking to step up your water conservation, help your lawn by giving the irrigation system a head check, looking for broken or tilted sprayers, blockages caused by overgrown plants, or heads sheared off by mowing.  Make sure the throw of water extends from head to head. As the heat hits, check your sprinklers to make sure they’ll keep up with the demands of scorching temperatures.  If they don’t, lawns respond by going dormant and turning brown.

Taller grass holds moisture longer, so set your lawnmower deck at three inches high for the summer.  In general, a Kentucky bluegrass lawn needs approximately two-and-a-half inches of water each week, split into several different days of watering.  Water deeply by having the sprinklers deliver half of their water for that day in one cycle, then the other half approximately an hour later.

If your lawn woes aren’t cleared up with good irrigation, get a little advice from horticulturists at your local Colorado Sate University Extension office. Through the
CSU Lawncheck program, homeowners across the Front Range can get helpful house calls for sick turf, with consultations on solving problems from weeds, disease and the dreaded brown spots.

The service is available for $75 per hour. Mileage costs may apply, depending on the distance of the site from the county Extension office. Lab fees for any samples collected will vary, based upon the tests to be run.

In most cases, yard problems are due to how the lawn is cared for, and homeowners can cure problems themselves.  Occasionally, help is needed from a professional lawn care company, so contact the folks at Colorado Association of Lawn Care Professionals,, for their list of local experts.

CSU Lawncheck is not available in all counties. Homeowners should call the Extension office in their county to make an appointment and then must be onsite to assist in the lawn assessment. Visit the CSU Lawncheck website for a listing of participating counties, or to schedule an appointment at

Colorado State University Extension, together with Boulder County Parks and Open Space, provides unbiased, research-based information about consumer and family issues, horticulture, natural resources, agriculture and 4-H youth development. For more information contact Extension at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Rd., Box B, Longmont,  303.678.6238, or visit the web site at