Turfgrass plants need soil moisture to sustain normal growth and development. If a lawn does not receive adequate water, it will begin to wilt, the leaves will curl or roll to conserve water by reducing leaf area. As the drought stress increases, the leaves of the plants will turn brown and the grass will go into dormancy, meaning it stops growing and loses its green color. Dormant grass will die once the crowns, rhizomes and roots begin to dehydrate. Root desecration will begin when soil temps reach 80 degrees at a 1 inch depth.
Steps to Help Your Lawn thru Drought Conditions
1. Watering: Once the lawn is in the dormant stage, apply ¼ to ½ inch of water every 2 to 4 weeks to maintain the moisture in the crown and roots to survive until the growing conditions improve.
2. Mowing:Mow as infrequently as possible at a height of 3 Inches, never taking off more than 1/3 of the leaf surface per mowing.
3. Fertilization:Avoid applying Nitrogen to the lawn during hot, dry conditions, the lawn will respond by putting out excessive growth when they should be going dormant. Best to fertilize in early September rather than summer.
4. Traffic:Limit traffic on the lawn as much as possible. Drought stress will occur faster with increased soil compaction.
When more frequent rainfalls begin to occur, the lawn will come out of its dormant state. You can then see if any fall lawn renovation is needed.
Fall Lawn Renovation
1. Fertilization:Once adequate rainfall begins and the lawn is no longer in a dormant state, a fertilizer application to maximize re-growth of dormant turf is suggested. As a general rule, apply one to one-and-a-half pounds of nitrogen per 1,000-square feet of lawn to encourage regrowth of weak or thin turf.
Reseeding: Sept. 1- Oct. 1 is an optimal time for reseeding the thin or bare areas of your lawn. Watering the reseeded areas is essential to good establishment.