How To Tell If Your Summer Lawn is dehydrated (and what to do about it).

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In the heat of the summer, your lawn can suffer from dehydration under the sun’s oppressive glare. Not every brown spot, however, is dehydration. Knowing when your lawn is truly suffering from a lack of hydration and how to address the issue when it rears its ugly head is the challenge for many homeowners during the drier parts of the year when there is excessive sunlight and also when there are water restrictions in place. Your neighborhood lawn experts at Spring-Green are to help! We’ve compiled this mini-guide to help you: 

  • Tell if your grass is over or under-hydrated 
  • Gain an understanding of how to get your lawn back into shape if it has become dehydrated 
  • Learn watering best practices for your type of lawn 
  • And more! 

Of course, if you are not the DIY type or if you need to call in a group of pros to help you solve your lawn problems (or just take care of routine maintenance), Spring-Green is always just a phone call away. 

Everything You Need To Know About Your Dehydrated Lawn: 

  • Preventing lawn dehydration. The exception is the grass that is dehydrated due to irrigation problems that are limiting the water in a specific area. Always check that it is properly hydrated first. 
    • The Tug Test – The tug test as it is called is where dead blades are put more easily because they have lost their rooting.  
    • Patterns And Patches – Patchy spots of dormant and dead grass spread throughout the yard can be an indicator of dehydration as well. 
  • Knowing the signs of dehydration. Understanding the signs of dehydration is key to prevention. Here are a few to keep a close eye out for: 
    • Visible Footprints – Footprints should go away very shortly after the imprint is made. If you begin to notice that they don’t, it could be a sign of lawn dehydration.  
    • Soil Gaps – When your lawn experiences dehydration, the soil shrinks. If there’s a gap, your lawn is experiencing heat stress, indicating it is in need of water. 
    • Bed Edge Dryness – The edges around your landscape beds can serve as a great drought indicator. If you notice drying “light” colored soil on the edges, it is a clear indication of dehydration.  
    • Screwdriver Test – An easy way to determine push a six-inch screwdriver into your lawn and see if it goes in easily or not. The easy it goes in, the more your lawn is hydrated. If the opposite is true, it may be a sign of dehydration.  
  • What to do if your lawn is dehydrated. If you have read the signs and know your lawn is suffering from dehydration, you have some work to do. The good news is you can (possibly) reverse things. Here are some ideas on how to take care of your lawn’s dehydration: 
    • Rake up the dead grass up clearing space for the soil. 
    • Spread seed. 
    • Apply fertilizer to get things off to a good start. 
    • Water and mulch. 
    • Ensure proper sunlight and water.   

Spring-Green is here to help if your lawn is showing signs of distress such as dehydration. We have been America’s go-to lawn specialist since 1977! Our professional team of lawn care experts can help with everything from routine maintenance to hydration issues to complete landscaping projects. We are standing by to assist you with your lawn care needs today.  

Contact Spring-Green for a free consultation. 

Tips To Fix Your Lawn During A Summer Drought

It’s almost inevitable. Summer arrives with scorching temps and lots of rain. But then the rain doesn’t always stay and drought conditions kick in. Lawn care becomes more complicated in an instant. Drought is more of a problem than ever before and worse in specific areas of the United States than others. Statistics estimate that 53 million people are living in drought-affected areas worldwide. More than 93 percent of the land area in Utah, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico is in some level of drought while 69 percent of Utah is in severe drought, as is 61 percent of Colorado. California, parts of Florida, and other areas of the United States also experience regular drought periods throughout the year and especially in summer.   

Keeping a healthy lawn during the dry or drought period is not easy. There are ways, however, to keep the summer drought woes at bay. Spring-Green, your neighborhood lawn care specialists since 1977, has the tips you need to work through the drought and keep your lawn in good shape all summer long.  

How To Deal Your Lawn During A Summer Drought:  

What to do before the drought starts –   

  • Create a water collection system – Rain barrels can be amazing and easy to install water collection systems and help combat the impact of droughts. For every inch of rain, you can gain approximately 500 gallons of water. Be sure you research your state’s laws about rainwater collection – some states have specific restrictions about rainwater collection and use.  
  • Install an irrigation system – A watering system can save water as well as money by allowing you to control the timing and amount of water used to hydrate your lawn.  
  • Choose grass wisely. Did you know that certain grass types are better for drought-prone areas? Zoysiagrass, buffalo grass, and fescue are the best grasses for drought conditions. Grasses that are native to the area are also the best considerations to deal with the local weather and drought conditions.    
  • Soil quality matters tooSoil testing can support how your lawn grows and thrives with or without the presence of drought conditions. In the event of a drought, it begins to matter even more. Soil support can help your grass thrive all summer long.   

What to do while the drought is in full effect –   

  • Limit foot traffic. Compacted soil is never a good idea on lawns and especially bad during a drought. Rope off or otherwise protect vulnerable areas especially when hydration is an issue. You should keep a close eye out for areas that look trampled or show footprints.   
  • Watch the weather. Don’t let the drought sneak up on you. Keep a close eye on local conditions and track drought conditions.  
  • Watch for signs. Keeping a close watch for signs of stress and disease is imperative to ushering your lawn through the dry season. Signs may look like thinning and browning as lack of water and excessive heat wreak havoc on the plant’s photosynthesis making your lawn unable to store carbohydrates. You may notice your grass wilting or darkening in color. Also, footprints will remain visible after walking on the lawn.   
  • Fertilize in moderation. Fertilizing can be great but there is a tipping point. Don’t try to offset the problems caused by drought by adding more and more fertilizer. This will burn your lawn.  
  • Mow at a higher setting. It’s a common mistake that buzz-cut-loving homeowners make. Cutting the grass too low can cause unneeded stress on your lawn during drought periods. Your mower should be set to around three inches. Keeping the grass a bit taller will help it to shade its fragile root systems and keep the soil moister by reducing evaporation from the sun.   

 If you live in an area where drought is getting worse and staying around longer, you may have to consider a few alternative solutions. Sustaining a lush, healthy lawn can be a challenge or impossibility in your geographical region. Here are some options to consider if you are faced with year-round drought conditions.  

  • Downsizing your Lawn – It may be worthwhile to reconsider just how much lawn you have if drought is an ongoing issue. With the increase in drought and water shortages, many homeowners are downsizing their green to support conservation, comply with local regulations and reduce the heavy lifting, not to mention lower the costs of having a lush green lawn in areas where it is hard to maintain. If a lawn is still desired for children or pets or even aesthetics there is no need to eliminate it, just make the area smaller and easier to manage.  
  • Artificial grass is trending – Artificial grass is not everyone’s aesthetic preference, but in some cases, it’s the most practical option. Desert environments undergoing water restrictions hardly merit an argument for a lawn and a little patch of artificial turf can be all that is needed for a pet or sitting area. Maintenance is easy and many varieties of artificial turf get remarkably close to looking like the real thing.  
  • Move toward drought-tolerant grass – Some grasses are better at dealing with drought conditions than others naturally. These drought-tolerant traits can help you fight the battle against drought and still have the full lawn you seek.  

Spring-Green specializes in lawn care in all conditions. For your home or your business, we can help you maintain the investment you’ve made in your lawn as well as help you amplify your enjoyment of your outdoor living space. During the hot, dry summer months, we are here to help you offset the impact of drought (and of course, all the other conditions year-round). Contact one of our professional team members in your area today to get started.  

Contact Spring-Green. 

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.

Tall Fescue Lawn Care

spring lawn care tips

A reader sent in this latest question about his Tall Fescue grass not looking its best. Harold gives him some great advice on how to care for Tall Fescue, a common transition zone grass type.

“Harold, I have a tall fescue grass in southern California, and cannot get it to stay a deep green. I have a few dead spots that even reseeding won’t cure, and my entire lawn is starting to turn a light brown. Any suggestions on getting my lawn normal? I water once a day for 4 min, also. Thanks!”

Dear reader,

Thank you for sending in your question. First of all, I have the deepest sympathy for anyone trying to grow grass or any other plant for that matter during the long drought California is enduring. Of course it is hard to say exactly what is happening with your lawn without actually seeing it, but I can provide you with some basic steps to follow.

First Step: Soil Test

Based on your comment, the first suggestion I have is to have your soil tested to determine if the pH is at the proper level. It should be between 6.5 and 7.0. Having the soil tested is always a good starting point when developing a treatment plan for your Tall Fescue grass.

Second Step: Change How You Water

The second thing I recommend is to change your watering schedule to 30 minutes a week, but provide the water all at the same time. The turf in your lawn, Tall Fescue, is a drought tolerant grass, but it can still thin out if it does not receive enough water. By watering once a day, you are only penetrating the top inch of soil, which causes the roots to grow closer to the service. Tall Fescue is a deep rooted turf, but if the water is only at the surface, that is where the roots will grow instead of going deep to look for more water. Your goal should be to supply 1 inch of water per week to your turf. To properly care for Tall Fescue, it’s much better to water for a longer time and less frequently.

Third Step: Core Aeration

The third thing I suggest is to core aerate your lawn by using a machine called a core aerator. These are available to rent at many hardware stores, rental agencies and home improvement centers. You can also employ a certified professional to do the service for you. A core aerator, as it is runs across your turf, will take out cores of soil and thatch and leave them back on the top of the lawn. This will open up your lawn to allow more air, water and nutrients to reach the root zone. The cores that remain on the lawn will break down with normal irrigation and melt back into the lawn. The microorganisms in the soil will work to break down the thatch. Your lawn does need to be moist to allow the core aerator tines to penetrate into the soil, so try to schedule this for a day after you water or, hopefully, after it rains.

Fourth Step: Reseed

Reseeding your turf after it is core aerated is a very good practice. Tall Fescue has a “bunch-type” growth habit and does not spread out to cover bare areas quickly. The core aeration holes provide a great place for the seed to germinate. You should spread 5 to 6 pounds of good quality Tall Fescue seed per 1,000 sq. ft. I suggest seeding this time of year as traditionally winter is a wetter time for California. I also suggest you reseed every year in the fall to early winter.

Fertilizing Your Lawn

Once you’ve received the results from your soil test, it will be much easier to determine the amount of fertilizer your lawn needs. Tall Fescue does not require an abundance of nitrogen to stay green. Generally, 2 to 3 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. per year is what Tall Fescue requires. The most nitrogen should be applied in the fall and less in the summer. The soil test will provide recommendations on the amount of Phosphorus and Potassium your turf will require.

I am confident that by following these basic steps, your lawn will respond and look better. If your lawn has Tall Fescue turf that needs some TLC, contact your local Spring-Green professional today!

During a Drought, Check Your Sprinklers and Water Efficiently

Most of us don’t think about watering our lawns in the spring; we generally rely on Mother Nature to do that for us. If you are fortunate to have an automatic sprinkler system, you may have delayed the start up process since the lawn might look good right now. Unfortunately, that is not true across the entire country.

U.S. drought map May 2015

As you can see from the most recent Drought Monitor map, the west coast and some of the east coast are experiencing very dry weather. California is experiencing abnormally dry weather to an extent that some municipalities are paying people to remove their lawns and plant native grasses and plants that require less water than home lawns.

Desperate times often lead to desperate measures. California is still getting some rain now and then, but not enough to reverse a drought that has lasted more than four years. Agriculture uses a large amount of the water that California receives, which leaves very little left for the people who desire a green lawn.

It is not just California and the West Coast that are dealing with drought. In the Northeast, despite having record setting snowfalls this past winter, they are extremely dry. It also has been unusually hot this spring, which results in lawns needing more water to stay green and healthy. Whether you use a garden hose and sprinklers or have a sprinkler system to water your lawn, it is important to water correctly and efficiently to conserve water.

If you do have a sprinkler system, the startup process should include more than just turning on a few valves and restarting the timer. The entire system should be checked for broken heads that need replacing, heads that are out of alignment, broken water lines, sunken sprinkler heads, etc. Often, doing a little bit of sprinkler repair can mean the difference between wasting and saving water.

Many things can happen to a sprinkler system during the year as well as during the winter, especially if you live in an area where the ground freezes, and spring can sometimes necessitate worthwhile sprinkler repair services. If you have never had your system checked, it would be a good idea to hire a professional sprinkler service company to do so. Water usage or misuse is becoming a greater issue every year. Make sure your system is working properly.

Many Spring-Green offices offer sprinkler startup services. Contact your local Spring-Green office to get this service scheduled.