Is Your Lawn Hot, Hot, Hot? After a cool-wet spring it seems the summer heat has arrived. What affect might this have on your lawn? Let’s explore.
Heat and drought stress that comes on quickly can be quite shocking to your lawn. Even though there seems to be a lot of moisture in the ground after a week of no rain and temperatures above 85 degrees, your lawn can start to show signs of stress. Does your lawn need a drink? Lawns need about one inch of water weekly to thrive; during periods of drought the lawn requires more water. It is best to irrigate in the early morning to avoid too much water evaporating. Watering infrequently 2-3 times a week usually will be sufficient. Nothing is worse for a drought stressed lawn than to water it for 10 minutes a day! Do not wait until your lawn starts to show signs of heat and drought stress to cure the problem. You cannot do anything about excessive heat stress on your lawn except to irrigate properly.
Be sure you do not have a build-up of thatch on your lawn. Some thatch is okay but a thatch layer of no more than ½ inch is best. Proper lawn care techniques and feeding and occasional de-thatching with a rake or machine helps to reduce thatch. Thatch tends to thrive when your lawn is over-fertilized. Using organic lawn products can be helpful to reduce thatch possibilities. Organics promote soil microbial activity and can help to create a balance in the soil which is not favorable for thatch growth.
If you have not raised your mowing height, do so now. This will help relieve heat and drought stress on the lawn. Be sure to mow off no more than 1/3 of the grass blades at a time. A mowing height of 3 to 4 inches is best during summer months. This helps retain water in the grass blades giving it as better chance of survival and can help to reduce watering costs. If you have a mulching mower use it and leave the clippings on the lawn. This also will help to recycle nutrients back into the lawn and keep them out of the landfill.
When your lawn starts to show signs of browning or perhaps death, what may be causing it?
It could be heat and/or drought stress or it could be insect damage. Insects tend to prey on weak grass plants and tend to avoid healthy growing lawns. Since we had mild winter weather bug populations could be far greater this year. Chinch bugs tend to be active during summer months; they suck juices out of grass plants. Grubs may also be causing the damage by chowing down on grass roots. If you have grubs or chinch bugs, apply Grub and Insect Control. For chinch bugs, we have an organic alternative: Organic Insect Control. Brown spots on your lawn could be heat and drought stress and you do not want to use any insect controls if you do not have insects, save the money and save the environment.
Lawn diseases also are more prevalent during summer months. High temperatures and some moisture favor disease development. Lawn Fungus Control can be used to both prevent and cure lawn diseases. Be sure you have a lawn disease before you try to control it with a fungicide.
The best way to avoid summer damage on your lawn is to follow a sound lawn care program. This goes all the way back to what you do to your lawn from early fall through your spring applications. Did you seed your lawn last fall with new, improved varieties of grass that are more heat, drought tolerant and insect resistant such as Jonathan Green Grass Seeds? Was your lawn fed properly to create healthy growing conditions? Did you water and mow properly this spring?
I hope your lawn survives this summer, enjoy a glass of lemonade.