Your lawn may be low on your priorities following a severe weather event such as a hurricane or flooding but once personal safety and dwellings are taken care of your lawn may also needs some attention. Start with the basics of removing any foreign debris such as limbs, glass, metal objects, etc. that may cause injury to people or pets, lawn equipment and the turf itself. Leaves and straw should be raked to prevent shading of the turf. Silt and salt are additional issues that many are faced with after flooding. Our warm season turf species are fairly resilient to excess water and can survive as much as a week of submergence. Once the water recedes any silt should be washed off the leaves with fresh water if available. Soil aeration will also be a benefit to getting oxygen to the roots. Be careful with heavy mowers are other equipment not to cause compaction to saturated soils. Bermudagrass, zoysiagrass and St. Augustinegrass have good salt tolerance whereas centipede and carpetgrass do not. Flushing with fresh water will remove salt from turf leaves and help leach it from the soil. Once the turf has dried out, been mowed and appears to be on the way to recovery a light compete fertilizer application can be applied.
If the turf does die from extended flooding, salt, chemicals, etc. you may want to consider a temporary lawn of ryegrass until you and the lawn are in a better situation to establish a new permanent lawn. Depending on your location within the state establishing a permanent lawn of some warm season turf species may be difficult this late in the growing season. The extension web at www.msucares.com can provide more detailed information on this and other storm related topics.
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. email@example.com