You may ask yourself, what is the crown of the grass and how can I make sure I protect it? Without getting too technical, grass has many different components. The main three are as follows: The Blade: the part that we can see, The Tiller: the small shoots of grass that replace aging or damaged blades, and The Crown: the part at the base of the plant closest to the soil. A common misconception with grass is that the blades are the most important component of our lawns. This is because it is what we see and what we maintain by cutting and fertilizing. The reality is that the grass blade continually grows and dies throughout a typical growing season. What makes your lawn strong and healthy is when you’ve got strength in the crown of your grass.
What is the Crown?
The Crown is basically command central for the plant. So, when healthy and strong, the crown allows for your grass to know when the blade is too old or damaged to be useful and tells the plant to produce replacement tillers. This greatly affects the overall density of your lawn. It is located at the base of the plant and often looks thicker than the rest of the grass
just above the soil
There are a few small things that any lawn advocate can keep in mind when they are maintaining their lawn while keeping the crown in mind.
Part of protecting the crown starts with your cutting height. You want to ensure that you are cutting at the 2.5-3” because that allows for the grass blade to shade the crown from the heat and damage of the hot summer sun. Cutting at this height also allows the grass blade to have space for multiple tillers to help improve the change for your lawn to become thicker and more resistant to lawn disease, weeds and insects.
Annual overseeding is incredibly imperative with our climate due to the harsh, cold winters we endure each year. Most people don’t understand that due to the temperature fluctuations, we lose on average between 5 – 15% of our lawns each winter. By applying additional seed to your lawn once per year (either in the Spring or Fall) will help replace the older crowns that are not producing as many tillers to keep up with the life cycle of the plant and therefore causing the grass to appear thin or sparse.
Insect Invasion and Recovery
Chinch bugs are a tiny insect that sucks the nutrients right out of the grass blade. When treated in time, often the grass will recover on it’s own with a little water and a light rake of the affected areas. If there is more of an infestation, such as last summer with the consistent hot and humid temperatures, the insects eat any area of the plant where they can feed which often includes the crown. Furthermore, we always recommend to rake out the affected grass and reseed those areas to help replenish where the insects have binged on their all-you-can-eat buffet.
Drought Stress and Recovery
When you have a foundation of strong grass you’ll notice that your grass recovers a lot quicker after a period of drought or extreme summer temperatures. When we get a summer like last year with constant heat, humidity and dry weather our grass suffers but the crown acts as a bodyguard against these damaging elements. A long deep watering is much more effective than short bursts because not only are you replenishing the moisture in grass blades, but while the plant is absorbing the water it also travels down to the soil through the crown so you’re watering ALL elements instead of just the blade. This allows for the grass to absorb and store the moisture the plant needs to sustain itself during times of stress.
Finally, there are many different factors to consider and understand when attempting to maintaining a lush, green lawn and we hope that this article sheds some light (or shade in the case) on a component that has proved to be integral to the overall health of your grass. For any additional questions please don’t hesitate to reach out and we’d be happy to help share our decades of knowledge and research to anyone and everyone.