Tag Archives: heat stress

Coarse Textured Grass Variety That Can Handle the Heat and So Much More – Tall Fescue!

If you are looking for a lawn that can tolerate extreme heat, drought and even heavy foot traffic, than turf-type tall fescue is for you! Pacocha - Tall Fescue Turf Tall fescue is a cool-season grass that loves sunny or even partially shaded areas.  Tall fescue is commonly mixed with other turf grass varieties when planting a durable high-traffic lawn.  Tall fescue grows in dense patches, is deeply rooted, dark green in color and is commonly viewed as a weed grass to many discerning residential turf management professionals.  In comparison to desirable blue grass and rye grass, tall fescue has very wide leaf blades and is very coarse in it’s overall appearance (especially older tall fescue varieties).  Older tall fescue varieties can be routinely found in mature residential lawns, along roadsides and parks.

 

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Sod Webworm: Weakened or drought stressed lawns beware!

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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Your Lawn is Under Severe Water Stress!

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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