Drought Stress and Summer Heat

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During the Summer months when we all love to spend time outside, hiking, biking, spending time at the beach or by the pool, having picnics, we rely on the weather to cooperate and to allow us to enjoy our adventures outdoors. During this time of year when the warm weather comes there are a few things you should know about your lawn. Your plants and grass will react to the heat by either wilting, browning, or even dying. Some facts to know about your lawn and your plants are that they can have and show a negative reaction to heat stress and drought like situations. You may have a beautiful, thick, lush green lawn in the spring and after a few warm weeks in the late Spring and Summer you may begin to notice brown patches or what looks to be “dead” sections of the lawn. These reactions can be the beginning signs of heat stress. Another, is that when the lawn is weakened by this stress it is more susceptible to damages caused by insects, weeds, or diseases. Insects, weeds, and diseases are all very active in the summer months, this is the time of year to help your lawn defend itself against these issues. As a defense mechanism to the stress of drought and heat the lawn will sometimes go into what is called a dormant state to protect its health and longevity. Extended periods of dry weather and high temperatures will take a toll on your lawns health especially if you do not provide the lawn with a proper watering schedule. Right now in Massachusetts there are many towns and counties that are under strict watering bans and your lawn can show the effects of that. To try and maximize the water usage you are allowed for your lawn you should know when and how to water the lawn.

When:

Watering should be done early in the morning before 11am is optimal. Watering at this time gives the water a chance to soak deep into the roots before the heat can evaporate it away. Watering in the evening could be damaging to your lawn. You are giving the moisture the opportunity to sit in the lawn all night and make it more susceptible to fungal issues.

How much to water:

You should water your lawn for 30-40 minutes per section 2-3 times per week. This gives your lawn a good deep root watering every time. This will allow the water to seep all the way down the root system and promote deep root growth. This also will ensure that the lawn is getting the right amount of nutrients. You only need to water a few times a week when you water for longer periods of time. It will take the lawn a longer period of time for the soil to dry out.

It is a common myth that the more water the better. This is not the case, the more water in your lawn the more issues you can be bringing to it. By over watering your lawn you run the risk of leaving moisture in the lawn encouraging fungal growth, or you could flood the lawn with water and wash away nutrients that the lawn needs to survive. Especially in the Summer when the lawn is already under an enormous amount of heat stress the last thing it needs is our cultural practices adding to the stress and making more of a problem. For example, if your mowing your lawn with a mower with dull blades that are not cutting properly and will cause the blades of grass to become jagged and those jagged edges are what creates a better opening for the disease to enter into your lawn. Or cutting the lawn to short can cause browning and thinning of the grass making the lawn more of a target for lawn disease, weeds, and insect damage. A full, thick lawn is the best defense to all these lawn problems.

What to do when you start to notice your lawn drying out?

If you start to notice your lawn suffering from heat stress you should focus on your cultural practices. Make sure you have a proper effective watering schedule, make sure the lawn is being mowed at the correct height and with sharp blades. If your lawn does become dormant because of the weather and you begin to water, you need to continually water the lawn regularly. The grass uses up its food reserve in the root system to become active again so you need to give it the time it needs to regain that reserve and not cause further stress. Please remember that a healthy lawn takes time and patience. In some cases, it could take a lawn up to a month to start showing signs of “life” again and green up. It is highly recommended to reseed your lawn after the drought and heat stress has subsided in the fall. For a beautiful landscape it is important to keep up with rejuvenating the grass, and keeping your lawn young to fight off the stresses a lawn can endure.

If you have any questions or need any help with your lawn, please call or email us today! We utilize all the tools available to help our customers enjoy their lawn during any season!