Managing Flood Damaged Lawns

When flood waters rise, it is common for turfgrass areas in home lawns, parks, recreational areas, and golf courses to be damaged by flood waters. Turfgrass damage has been due to erosion, deposition of soil and debris, or simply submersion under water.

flooded lawn By Puripatch AdobeStockRapidly moving flood waters can cause extensive turf and soil erosion. Damaged areas will need to be repaired and seeded this fall. Sod can be installed this summer for a quicker fix. The best time to seed a lawn in Iowa is mid- August through September. Sodding can be done almost any time of the year when the ground is not frozen or covered with snow.

Injury may also occur due to deposition of debris and soil. All debris should be immediately removed from turfgrass areas once the flood waters recede. Soil deposits greater than 1/2 inch should also be removed. Often turfgrass leaves are coated in soil or mud and you can improve the recovery by washing the coating from the leaves. Also, core aerify the area to promote recovery of the turf.

Turfgrass areas that are flooded for an extended period may be injured by a lack of oxygen. The degree of injury depends upon the turfgrass species, the duration of flooding, the condition of the turf prior to flooding, depth of submergence, and other factors. Kentucky bluegrass, which is the predominant turfgrass in Iowa, is moderately tolerant of submersion under water. A healthy Kentucky bluegrass turf area should be able to survive several days submersed under water. After the flood waters recede, core aerify the area once the ground will not rut from the aerification machine to facilitate the movement of oxygen into the soil.

More Information

Photo credit: Puripatch/AdobeStock

Last reviewed:
June 2024