How to Help Your Lawn Recover After a Flood

Here in the Tampa Bay area we can face some severe weather conditions. Hurricane season brings strong storms which can generate excessive rains even if the storm’s center is hundreds of miles away.

And every Florida resident understands that a typical rainy summer can result in floods from swollen creeks and rivers, overly waterlogged lawns, and abundant standing water.

Fact: Most types of grasses can survive being submerged for up to 4 days, although roots can begin to drown, rot and die in as little as 24 hours.

If your lawn or property has experienced a flood of any kind, there are some simple steps you can take to help it to recover from the stress and damage.

1) Clean up the Debris – After a major storm, there may be debris in your yard deposited by floodwaters. Make sure to wear heavy gloves to protect yourself from any toxicity or contamination, and wash off completely after clean up.

Watch out for broken shards of glass or metal.

2) Allow Some Time – You can permanently damage the soil and cause compaction if you try to work on the lawn while it is still muddy. It is also difficult to make any progress while still slogging through standing water.

Let your yard dry off for a few days after removing debris. In the Tampa area, we are lucky that strong sunlight is rarely in short supply, even between rains, helping evaporation.

Tip: After heavy rains, you may wish to document areas on your property experiencing pooling water. Take photos or mark the area so that you can show a landscape architect after the water has dried up. These areas may not have proper drainage, and will cause recurring problems storm after storm if the issue is not resolved.

3) Rinse Off Silt – If your lawn was flooded from a body of water such as a lake, river or creek, use a pressure washer to wash as much silt as possible off your lawn. (You can also use a garden hose if necessary). Any remaining silt, dirt, or mud should be broken up with a strong, sturdy rake and removed.

4) Help it to Breathe & Resume Growth – In order to aid the drying process under the top layer of soil, aerate your lawn. Follow up with a treatment of quick release fertilizer to add nitrogen, which will help with repair and regrowth.

Once these steps are followed, keep a close eye on your lawn for several weeks. If the majority of the lawn appears to be recovering, simply reseed bare areas. If it becomes evident that the majority of your lawn has died, it may be best to remove all grass and start over with new sod.

If that course of action becomes necessary, you can use the opportunity to test soil pH, and treat the soil directly for any deficiencies.

Living in paradise does come with some risks – but with a little preparation and some patience, you should find that your yard can bounce back beautifully from a heavy storm or flood.