High heat and dry weather can create a lot of stress for lawns. When your lawn is stressed, it’ll turn into a dull, and ugly lawn that no one wants.
How do you know your lawn is stressed?
You lawn may be stressed if…
- You see footprints remain on the grass after you walk on it. Usually, when you step on grass it’ll leave a print but goes away after a few moments. When your lawn is stressed, the plant’s elasticity begins to deteriorate, leaving a print where pressure is added.
- If the grass is discolored, or curled at the tips. The grass may turn darker before going brown. Brown spots also could indicate a grub infestation.
- You have soil gaps. When there are drought-like conditions, soil becomes more compact, and you’ll see a gap between the grass and the sidewalk if your lawn is stressed.
When your lawn is stressed, it’s hard for it to take in nutrients.
ACTIONS TO TAKE
- Aerate your lawn, especially if it experiences a lot of heavy objects and foot traffic. If your lawn is compacted, it’s hard for air to get to the roots, making the heat stress worse.
- Water before 10am. Watering in the afternoon will evaporate the water before it gets to the roots, and watering at night increases your lawn’s risk of disease.
- Water infrequently. You should water your lawn about ⅓ of an inch 2-3 times a week. Watering every day is actually worse for a stressed lawn. Watering about every other morning can help make your lawn more drought-resistant.
If you live in a drought-prone area, it may be smart to overseed with drought-resistant seeds. These seeds grow fast and require little maintenance. They are especially good in the West and Midwest. It’s always best to check your local nursery for the different types of seeds that are best for your area.
More tips for when there’s a drought:
- If the drought is severe and you have drought-resistant seeds such as kentucky bluegrass, it’ll likely be fine if you just let it go dormant; however, if you have seeds that aren’t drought-resistant, you should heavily water your lawn after the first signs of a drought. Also, it’s best not to mow your lawn during this time, but if you have to, mow a day after it rains.
- If you have a new lawn, just keep up with watering and don’t compact the soil. This is important because new lawns still need to grow deeper roots to be able to withstand future weather conditions, and letting a new lawn go dormant can have negative long term effects.
- When it’s over, consider overseeding with more drought-resistant seeds.
The best way to prevent severe heat stress in drought-related conditions is to prep in the spring. During this time, water regularly (or, just let it be if it rains a good amount), and make sure the roots grow deep and make a more resilient lawn. Also, make sure you know what kind of grass you have so you can properly take care of your lawn.