Summer in the city and the back of my neck is getting dirty and gritty. Your lawn is getting brown or shall we say has a summer tan? Heat and drought can move your lawn to a dormant condition. Here are some things NOT to do aside from the obvious don’t park your car on the lawn (heat tracks) or leave the kiddie pool in one place for a week rule (big dead circles). Camping tents or a bounce house can have the same effect. It is however a good time of year if you have decided to convert some turf area to a garden bed. Pinned black plastic will use the power of the sun to kill the grass over the next couple months without you having to dig it up. In September you will have an outlined bed with a lot less work to plant the garden of your dreams.
With stay at home orders I’m sure the home lawn is getting more traffic than usual.
With that in mind now that the heat of summer has arrived here are some things NOT to do.
Don’t mow during the heat of the day. High noon is not the time of day to mow for your lawn, you and the environment. Eat lunch instead.
Raise the deck. Scalping your lawn is never a good idea but especially in hot weather. You’ll stress out your lawn (heat stress) and encourage weeds to take its place.
Don’t bag the clippings. Leaf clippings provide both nutrients and moisture. Fine clippings are as much as 80% water. Whatever time of the year don’t mow more than 1/3rd of the blade per mowing.
Don’t mow with dull blades. Dull blades tear the leaf blades giving the lawn a yellow cast. It also makes the lawn susceptible to disease. Your lawn doesn’t want a bad hair day.
If your lawn has moved to drought induced dormancy it is turf’s natural coping mechanism. A healthy lawn can hang in there in a dormant condition for a while (up to 4 weeks). Allowing natural dormancy is better than an occasional squirt and then stopping again. If drought conditions persist and lawn moves from a summer tan to a grayish-purple color then it’s time for “fescue 911” as in an investment in pouring on the water to re-hydrate and keep alive.
Don’t water during the heat of the day. Morning is best and most effective. Mid day a lot of waste will occur due to evaporation and wind. Evaporation pulling moisture into the atmosphere and not the root zone of your turf. Avoid evening watering as that will encourage disease especially in hot humid weather.
You can consider core aerating this fall and top dressing with organic material to improve the lawn’s future drought tolerance prospects. In potting soils for plants a wetting agent or super absorbent polymer crystal are used to retain moisture There are also hygroscopic and humectants granules that can be applied to the lawn. They attract moisture like tiny “water magnets” forming microscopic droplets within the root zone.
Don’t use herbicides on the lawn when the temperatures are hot (85 degrees plus). The herbicides won’t be effective. Most weeds develop a glossy protective coating and will repel the herbicide. (Weeds are survivors). You also will burn the lawn using herbicides in hot temperatures.
Finally don’t do something just for the sake of doing something so it will make you feel better. If the lawn is under stress don’t feed it with fertilizer to try to force growth. Let nature take its course and feed once temperatures have lowered and things have normalized. Lawn fertilizers will be effective when more temperate conditions once again prevail.