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.