The first cool-season lawn areas to show signs of heat related stress will likely consist of Kentucky bluegrass and fine fescue grass plant varieties. Lawn areas that are not routinely watered, experience full-sun exposure or are found growing atop shallow heat-retaining objects (sewers, utilities, compacted materials, etc.) or alongside curbs, sewer covers, sign posts, etc. will go dormant first when temperatures hold in the mid-to-upper 90’s and moisture is non-existent.
In most cases, as cooler temperatures return and routine rainfall becomes the norm, your lawn will awaken from it’s dormancy and return to it’s beautiful self all on it’s own and without any additional help. However, depending on the total duration and severity of the heat/drought experienced, season-end lawn repairs by seed may be needed to rebuild any/all lost lawn density.
Here are a few seasonal lawn care tips to remember when we experience severe heat and dry conditions
- Try to keep foot, bicycle or vehicle traffic across all heat effected lawn areas to a bare minimum.
- Water regularly all season long to ensure dormant-prone grass plant varieties thrive and survive.
- If a routine watering program is not possible for any reason, do not begin to water your lawn sporadically after your lawn has already gone dormant. Just let your lawn come out of dormancy on it’s own, over time and as cooler weather and routine rainfall allows.
- Mow lawn high (3.5″+/-) all season long for best overall grass plant health and to encourage critical root development.
- Core aerate lawn every fall to relieve soil compaction and allow for improved air/nutrient/water flow to your lawns root zone.
- Incorporate the planting of drought-tolerant cool season grass varieties into your seasonal lawn improvement program.
Please be sure to let our team at Pacocha Landscaping Services, Inc. know if we we can be of help or answer any questions you may have. Thank you for visiting our site and have a great day!
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If you maintain a lawn that happens to benefit from full sun exposure (not shaded) and has become weakened from heat and drought stress you need to be aware of sod webworm and the damage it can cause. This small sod webworm caterpillar (5/8″-1″ in length) can chew off leaves and stems of your cool-season grasses including Kentucky bluegrass, most fescues, perennial ryegrass and bentgrass. It will cause general lawn thinning, followed by small patches of brown and finally leaving behind closely cut/cropped areas. A lawn that is healthy and well irrigated will often tolerate and recover from sod webworm scalping. Weak or drought stressed lawns that have been clipped short by sod webworm may be killed via sun exposure to the crowns of the plant. Adult sod webworm moths (lawn moths) are small whitish, dull gray or tan colored moths that hover over turfgrass at dusk. As these small sod webworm moths flutter across the lawn females drop eggs during flight that settle in the upper thatch layer of your lawn. As many as 500 eggs are laid during a life span of usually less than 14 days. Depending on temperatures, eggs hatch in 4 to 20 days and the larvae develop through usually 6 to 8 larval stages in 4 to 7 weeks. The larvae are beige, gray, brown or a greenish color (depending upon species) with a brownish head. The older larvae chew down foliage around their burrows mainly at night. Most sod webworm have two generations per year. Sod webworm are fairly easy to control on a curative, as-needed basis. Insecticide controls are directed against the feeding larvae, not the moths. A healthy, vigorous turf, balanced fertility and adequate irrigation during dry periods will enhance your lawn’s tolerance to sod webworm feeding. As always, be sure to contact a local lawn professional to help identify sod webworm, evaluate treatment options and analyze if lawn repairs will be needed.
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When watering your lawn, you should really strive to water enough to wet the entire root zone. The most common error committed by people is light irrigation. Too little water too often encourages a multitude of problems such as shallow root system. The ever changing need for watering depends mainly on your soil and of course, the weather. Determining the type of soil you have is really helpful when determining beneficial watering schedules. If you have a clay based soil watering to 1.25″ +/- is just about right. However if your soil is more sandy or loam than anywhere between 1/2″ – 3/4″ is fine. Try to remember that rainfall is no guarantee and should not be relied on as the single source of moisture for your lawn. Light showers merely wet the surface. Short down pours do the same. Most of the water is lost in runoff before it can soak in to the soil. A lawn will use as much as two inches per week in hot, dry weather – a fraction of that when it is cooler. If you decide your lawn needs water, you should put on enough to wet the entire root zone as specified above. If you can, avoid late afternoon or evening irrigation. Grass that stays wet for a long time favors development of diseases. However, do not avoid watering at these times if this is the only time you can water. The important thing is water. Avoiding late afternoons is secondary to providing the needed water to your turfgrass. In heavy clay soils prevent watering to the full recommended amount at one time, frequent watering may be necessary to avoid surface runoff.
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