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Summer Lawn Care: Fighting Heat & Drought Stress

Posted by: Nick DiBenedetto on July 26, 2019

Summer is upon us and your lawn may be showing some signs of stress.  This could be due to heat, drought, or a combination of both.

Signs Of Summer Stresses

Your lawn may need a drink if footprints remain on the grass hours after walking on it or if the grass appears discolored (it usually turns gray or a darker shade of green before going brown).  Cool season grass types like we have here in the North Shore don’t do well when the temperature approaches and/or exceeds 90 degrees.

When drought is the culprit, brown patches appear randomly and in rough patterns.  Lawn near a sprinkler head may be green, while lawn further away is brown.  Grassy areas in shade remain greener when parts in full sun turn brown due to drought.  Lawn in low spots will remain green while higher areas turn brown. Dry periods can eliminate the root’s water supply causing the grass to go dormant to protect itself.

Fighting Summer Stresses

Summer lawn care varies greatly from the spring and fall mostly because of increased temps and less rain. And the best way to beat the heat is by watering!  A healthy lawn needs at least one inch of water per week in normal conditions. Keeping a consistent water schedule is best to maintain adequate soil moisture during the hot summer months. Less frequent, deeper watering is better than frequent shallow ones.  So instead of watering for 15-20 minutes a day, water 30-40 minutes every other day.

Watering for longer periods of time less often will promote deeper roots, greater drought tolerance, and less maintenance.  Water your lawn in the early morning when it is cool to allow more water to soak into the ground rather than evaporate.  Avoid watering in the evening to prevent fungus and disease.

Make sure you have functional and easy to use watering equipment to make the process foolproof.  If you don’t know how to adjust the timing on your irrigation system, call your irrigation company to come and perform an audit of your system.  Fix any heads that are leaking or not performing well. 

Water conservation is a big deal here in the Boston area as well as all over the United States. You can follow drought conditions in your area by going online and using the US Drought Monitor. You can also conserve water by investing in a cheap rain gauge and avoid watering your driveway and sidewalks.

Fertilization & Weed Control

Keeping up with seasonal lawn care during hot and drought conditions is an essential part of maintaining healthy grass and can produce a wonderful lawn if performed correctly.  Applying fertilizer and on a regular basis will mean the nutrients are there when the cooler temperatures and rains of early fall return and growth starts again.  Regular weed control treatments are important to prevent weeds from taking over vital space in the lawn which should be used for the expansion of the turf’s root system.

Keep The Grass Longer In Summer

Summer lawn care also means moving that mower blade up! Grass has a crown from which new growth emerges.  If you keep the grass blades higher in the summer, the blades shade the crown and protect it from burning.  Taller grass also shades and cools the soil resulting in less water evaporation.  Weed seeds are less likely to germinate under the cooler, shaded conditions as well. 

Aeration And Overseeding

Summer’s heat and drought can leave the soil of your lawn dry, possibly to the point of repelling any water that makes contact.  Breaking up that soil surface can be one of the best things to do for your stressed lawn.  Opening the surface up by removing plugs of soil gets water, oxygen, and nutrients down to the roots and can help the grass recover from drought and heat.

There are constant improvements being made to various grass varieties.  Some of these improvements are in drought tolerance, so over-seeding your existing lawn with these improved varieties can, in the long term, give you a more drought resistant lawn. 

Get More Info From The Pros!

Looking for more information on lawn care or just ready to let the professionals take over your lawn care needs? The Grassmaster Plus team is ready and willing to answer any questions you have and can provide you a free quote on your lawn care services for the season. Contact our local office today!