Don’t Let Drought Stress Overtake Your Lawn!

drought stress

With high temperatures and humidity during the summer months, drought will have most visible impact on lawns and landscapes. Lawns will often turn brown and without proper mowing and watering, your lawn may suffer from heat stress. Learning how you can green up your grass and tips to recover your lawn from drought will help it survive in time for fall and winter dormancy.

Symptoms of Drought Damage On Lawn

Purpling, also known as moisture stress, are the beginning stages of drought which causes the grass to turn a slight purple-like hue. The most noticeable impact of heat stress on a lawn is the brown appearance. The brown area becomes almost straw-like, entering a state of dormancy and will remain so until it gets a sufficient amount of water.  It’s also important avoid walking over the damaged area as the grass plant will not spring back up from any foot traffic on the lawn. Excess thatch layers in the lawn will experience drought stress quicker. Core Aeration will help in the fall to rejuvenate and get the lawn healthy again.

Treatment for Drought Stressed Grass

Watering

If mother nature does not bring any rain, watering the lawn will be beneficial. It’s important to replace lost moisture in a lawn, as water
weakness gives lawn diseases an easy entry. Lawns need at least 1 inch of water per week. If you cannot water your lawn one inch or more per week, you may consider getting an irrigation system to make sure your lawn and landscape is getting the necessary amounts of water at a time.

A grass plant will enter into dormancy as a defense mechanism. It shuts down all of the essential process, which is mainly the top growth, in an effort to keep the crown and root system alive. As long as the crown is alive, the plant will survive (up to 3 weeks) even if the top growth has all turned brown. You can water less if you mow high. It may take a little while to get used to, but your lawn will look better and you will use less water keeping it looking its best.

Mowing

Hot temperatures will often result in people wanting to mow short to avoid having to mow it frequently. Mowing short will actually remove the food producing part of the grass plant and will make your lawn turn brown. During the summer you want to mow high to conserve water and shade the soil.

Cool-season grasses should be mowed at 2 ½ to 3 inches from the first mowing in the spring until the end of the year. The lawn will be greener, healthier and more weed free. If this rule is followed. If you have been mowing your lawn short, by all means raise it up to the highest or second highest setting. For those who live in the Transition Zone, you should be mowing your Tall Fescue at a minimum of 3 inches. For those in the warm-season areas, Bermuda, Zoysia and Centipede may be mowed at around 1 ½, but Centipede grass grows much better when it is mowed high, at least 3 inches in height.

Adding lawn treatment and fertilizer should be pushed back if your lawn is suffering from heat stress. Although drought damage is unsightly, it is temporary until temperatures begin to cool down approaching fall. Keeping in mind best practices for mowing and watering will help your lawn recover and avoid further damage. Your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green can provide further information and recommendations to keep your lawn green and healthy during the hot summer months.

Freeze Damage, Flood Damage, Drought Damage… Oh My!

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Freeze Damage

We received several inquiries about lawns with irregular bleached patches. They only show up on some lawns and only in some areas. These types of patches are not normally seen in mid-May, but it can happen. The discoloration comes from freezing temperatures, freezing the new lush blades of grass. Fortunately it did not seem to affect ornamentals the same as it did grass blades.

Freeze damage

The symptoms look just like fertilizer burn – white grass blades from the tip down. If you look down towards the base of the plant, you will see the green tissue is still intact. These spots will disappear after the lawn is mowed two or three times. The other variable that seemed to increase the likelihood of this occurring was on lawns that had been mowed during the day before the freeze occurred. Turf is an amazing plant and it will recover; it just may take two or three weeks.

Flood Damage

Our Franchises in the Houston and Dallas, TX area have received record amounts of rain this year. Therefore many of the lawns are flooded. The question that many people ask is, “how long can grass stayed submerged under water?”  If your yard is submerged for three or four days, it will probably be okay. Any longer than that, it will most likely need to be replaced. Trees and shrubs on the other hand can survive a longer time when submerged, as their roots generally grow deeper into the soil. They will still be able to get enough oxygen to survive. The same cannot be said for small perennials or annual plants. They will succumb due to the flooding.

Due to all of the rain, weeds are out of control and it has been difficult to treat them as it always seems to be raining. If flooding wasn’t bad enough, all the flooding has forced lots of snakes out of their dens to escape the flooding. Below are a couple of King Snakes in the backyard of a customer with a bumper crop of weeds. Dealing with weeds is bad enough without worrying about snakes.

snake

Drought Damage

Travel east from Houston a couple of states and you will reach Alabama. One of the Field Service Professionals from our office in the Auburn area sent in some pictures of lawns that are showing drought stress.

Many customers have sprinkler systems, but they will go out of alignment or require adjusting. These problems show up when things dry out. Refer to the image below. Some of the heads do not seem to be working properly, so large sections of the lawn are not receiving adequate water.

drought damage

Having your sprinkler system checked by a professional company is a wise practice at least once each year. This will help prevent this type of blotchy lawn appearance.

You know it is dry when the Bermuda grass goes dormant. As you can see in the picture below, this lawn is going dormant, which is actually a defense mechanism of the plant to help keep the crown alive. During dry periods, plants will shut down non-essential parts to keep the crown alive. Bermuda grass can survive the entire summer without water, but it will turn brown.

drought

Once the lawn receives adequate water, it will start greening up again. It has been Spring-Green’s experience that lawns that continued to be serviced during drought periods recovered faster than those lawns that skipped those applications.

Summer has just begun and the weather is topsy turvey once again. These things will always be constant in lawn care; the weather will be unpredictable, weeds will grow, insects will hatch and disease will develop. To get help with your lawn contact a local Spring-Green office to find out how we can help with damage to your lawn.