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How To Care For Your Lawn During A Drought

How to Care for Your Lawn During a Drought

Driving down the road I see brown lawn after brown lawn. This year has been exceptionally hot and dry in the Midwest, and grass is not happy.

Green lawns were long considered a status symbol because they are hard to maintain and require a lot of upkeep to keep them looking lush. While difficult to achieve, it's not impossible if you know what you're doing, even during a drought.

How do I know if my lawn is heat stressed?

You can identify heat stress in your lawn pretty easily. Typically heat stress will start in blotches; often times following sidewalks, driveways and other moisture drawing surfaces. Certain types of grass are most susceptible to dormancy. Eventually the entire lawn will start turning brown and entering a dormant state- much different than the small patches of dead lawn you might find if you have grubs or dog spots. You can also look back at weather reports. Grass typically needs around 1.5 to 2 inches of water per week, so if rain hasn't been in the forecast and your irrigation system isn't up and running there's a very good chance your lawn is under watered and heat stressed.

Heat stress in lawns has a wide-spread brown appearance to it.

How do I get my lawn green again?

Start with heavy, consistent watering. Aim for around that 1.5 to 2 inches of water per week. It's important to water first thing in the morning before it gets hot or a lot of the water will end up evaporating in the heat, while watering too late in the evening can put your lawn at risk for different diseases. Be mindful of sloped areas or areas with more sun as they will require more water

Next you will want to keep up with weed control and fertilization. Grass may not do well in heat, but weeds do! If your grass is in a dormant state, weeds will not have to compete for nutrients and will fill in your lawn. Fertilizer helps bolster the lawn so that it's better able to survive harsh conditions, like heat. A granular option will only feed the lawn as it gets watered so that there's no risk or burning or wasting the application if the grass is dormant.

You will also want to keep up with your aerations- this process is recommended yearly for a reason! It reduces soil compaction and deepens the root systems so that your grass can absorb water and nutrients better. This process is typically done in the spring or fall for a full season of benefits.

Another preventative measure is to leave your grass longer. It's tempting to cut it short for a nice, clean look but longer grass actually survives the heat better. If you raise your mowing height by an inch or two it will greatly benefit your grass.

These tips work best in combination with one another to help your lawn with heat stress. If you are noticing other issues, like thin or bare patches, you will want to check out other programs that target those problems by visiting

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