Feed Back From The Field With Tips to Keep Your Lawn Looking Green During A Summer Drought
The sun’s rays are the strongest during the summer months, which can cause problems for the green vegetation. The heat dries out the soil, which makes it difficult for plants to absorb water and nutrients. The lack of moisture also makes it difficult for plants to photosynthesize, which is how they produce food.
Connecticut is going through a very dry season that will affect your lawns, trees, and shrubs. 62.4% of CT is abnormally dry and 35.5% is in moderate drought. ( https://www.drought.gov/states/connecticut )
“It always seems impossible until it is done.”
– Nelson Mandela
Hear what our field technicians have to say:
Steve- “When the drought is in sight, increase your mowing height”
Eric- “Plants are just like humans; they get stressed out due to high summer heat and are susceptible to dehydration and illnesses.”
Drought conditions have been plaguing the summer so far, and if you’re like most homeowners, your lawn may already be suffering as a result. You don’t have to give up on your grass yet though; there are still plenty of things you can do to keep it alive until conditions improve in the fall. Our professional field technicians (Steve & Eric) with experience on the topic would like to offer these pro lawn care tips that will help your lawn maintain its lush green appearance despite the heat and lack of rain.
Tip #1 Do a soil test
One of the best ways to know what your lawn needs is to do a soil test. This will help you determine the pH level of your soil, as well as the nutrient levels. You can buy a testing kit at your local nursery or home improvement store, or you can send a sample of your soil to a testing lab. The results of the test will tell you what amendments you need to add to your soil to make it more hospitable for grass, trees, and shrubs.
For a very inexpensive kit you can head over to your local gardening store, Walmart or even Amazon and pick your self up a Fosmon Soil pH Tester, which only comes in at about $15 or less.
For a more optimal approach, try something like an inhouse soil testing lab at Harrington’s Organic. They can offer more than just a pH testing, they would send over a soil testing kit or technician to look at your lawn , and provide you with a guide for the right types of solutions and quantities of fertilizers to better enhance specific plant growth by showing its pH. This which indicates how alkalinity or acidity, the sample test would also explain levels of key nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus levels, while identifying soil contaminants that may be present.
Tip #2 Water deeply and less often
Summer is an especially important time to save water. Outdoor water use increases residential consumption from 10% to 50% in June, July, August, and September. These tips will show you ways to use water more efficiently outdoors, save money — and help lower garden maintenance, too!
One of the best ways to combat drought conditions is to water your lawn deeply and less often. This encourages your grass to develop a deep root system (A deep root system is a key to a healthy lawn that can withstand periods of dryness), which is more resilient to drought.
Tip #3 Timing is everything
A typical lawn needs about one inch of water per week, water in the early morning or evening when evaporation is at a minimum. Watering your lawn mid-day will result in a high rate of evaporation and sunburned grass. Roots can maintain plenty of moisture even after several days without rain. Before watering, look for signs: patchy areas, a general change in color, or footprints that remain in the grass long after being made. Frequent light watering can weaken your lawn by encouraging shallow roots that are less tolerant of dry periods and more susceptible to insect damage. Wet grass can also burn in the hot sun and is vulnerable to disease from mildew and fungus. Test your soil for dryness by digging your finger below the surface of the soil. Water only when the soil is dry to a depth of 1 1/2 inches. When watering, check to see that water soaks down 3-4 inches. This encourages deep root growth.
Make sure to check for local water restrictions before you start watering. Bonus, it’ll save you time and money on your water bill!
Tip # 4 Remember to aerate
Aerating your lawn is one of the best things you can do to combat summer drought. Aeration helps improve water and nutrient uptake and reduces compaction and thatch build-up. It also encourages deeper root growth, which means your lawn will be better able to withstand periods of drought. If you have a lot of trees and shrubs on your property, make sure to aerate around them as well to help reduce stress on the roots and improve their ability to take up water during this period.
Tip #5 Pick the right grass
One way to keep your lawn looking green during a drought is to pick the right type of grass for your area. If you live in an area that experiences a lot of heat and little rain, consider opting for drought-resistant grass. Some examples of drought-resistant grasses include Bermuda grass, zoysia grass, and buffalo grass. Tree and shrub placement can also help your lawn stay green during a drought. By placing trees and shrubs around your lawn, you can create shade that will help protect your grass from the sun’s harsh rays.
Tip#6 Add organic matter such as compost
Adding organic matter to your soil is one of the best things you can do to improve its quality. Not only does it add essential nutrients, but it also helps improve drainage and aeration. Plus, it can help retain moisture, which is key during a drought.
Tip #7 Mowing high level every three weeks
If you want your lawn to stay green during a drought, you need to start by mowing it at a high level, at about 3 to 4 inches. This means that you should only be cutting off the top third of the grass blades. Longer grass retains more moisture because it shades the roots. It encourages deeper rooting, requires less fertilizer, and competes better against weeds. You should also be mowing every three weeks or so, as this will prevent the grass from getting too long and stressed out due to intense heat during the summer periods.
Tip#8 Avoid salt base chemicals on your lawn and apply soy base solutions
Many people think that the only way to keep their lawn looking green during a drought is to apply salt-based chemicals. However, this can actually cause damage to your lawn and make it more difficult to recover from the drought. Instead, try using soy-based solutions. These are less harmful to your lawn and will still help keep it looking green.
Tip #9 Give your lawn a rest
If your lawn “fades” in the summer, don’t panic. Grass becomes naturally dormant during hot, dry periods depending on your grass type. It will revive quickly after a good rainfall or when the weather turns cooler, don’t forget.
• Water very early in the morning.
• Never water when it’s windy, rainy, or very hot.
• Raise the blade level of your mower to 3-4 inches. Longer grass retains more moisture because it shades the roots. It encourages deeper rooting, requires less fertilizer, and competes better against weeds.
• Never water faster than the soil can absorb it. Avoid puddling and run-off. Your soil type will also help determine how much you must water. Sandy soils will require more water and frequent applications. Clay or silt soil will cause more run-off because the soil can’t absorb the water as fast.
• If you have an automatic sprinkler system, make sure the timer or “controller” is set to water each landscape zone efficiently. Program the controller to operate according to the watering needs of your lawn or garden. Install a rain sensor or soil moisture sensor that turns the system off if it’s raining or if moisture is present in the soil.
• Aerate your soil in September or October to aid water absorption and retention.
• Purchase a rain gauge or use a plastic container or tin can to help indicate how long it takes to collect a 1⁄2” of water.
• Improve soil structure and enhance moisture-retaining capabilities.
• When temperatures exceed 90 ̊F your lawn should be watered 1 to 2 times daily.
• Using synthetic fertilizers will deplete lawns of moisture because of the high levels of salt.
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