MILWAUKEE, WI (July 13, 2016) – Summer means plenty of sunshine and warm weather, but it can also bring droughts and dry weather, which can cause damage to lawns. Fortunately, there are ways to combat the dry conditions with simple and smart lawn care techniques.
First and foremost, early detection is important. Initial signs of a drought-damaged lawn may be a change in color, folded or rolled tips of grass, or foot imprints left in the grass when stepped upon. Once these symptoms have been identified, it’s important to start taking the following preventative measures to help ensure the grass does not fully die.
Watering: The first instinct of many home owners will be to water the lawn. Most are under the impression that watering grass everyday will help with the color, but that may actually be contributing to the problem. Too much water will actually cause run off, meaning the water will not penetrate deep enough into the soil to reach the roots. In reality, the lawn only needs to be watered once a week. About an inch of water will provide enough to deeply soak into the soil, without run off, encouraging deeper root growth and more resilient grass. Additionally, watering during the early morning and later evening hours when the water is less likely to evaporate will mean optimized water usage and less waste.
Grass Cycling: After mowing, many home owners are tempted to rake up unwanted grass clippings. Next time though, instead of picking up grass clippings or bagging them, leave them on the yard. The lawn clippings actually shade the lawn and trap moisture, preventing evaporation. They also return valuable nutrients to the soil to help encourage healthy grass growth.
Mowing: During a drought, the height and frequency of mowing has a huge impact on lawn health. Mowing at a higher height of 3-3 ½ inch blades of grass helps shade the soil and protect it from evaporation. It’s also recommended to only mow 1/3 of the grass blade or about once per week. Over mowing can lead to soil irritation, scalping from grass blades being cut too short and even infection.
It’s important to remember, grass may not spring to life immediately during a drought solely by incorporating these tactics. Sometimes grass must go brown or dormant to withstand extreme conditions. But, continuing to practice these techniques during dry conditions will ensure color returns and grass comes back once the dry weather has passed.