Ask a Question
Notify Me On Question Update
Email this Question
My lawn is really struggling with the heat and drought. Is there a point when it just won't recover?
Rate This FAQ
With high temperatures, drying winds and drought conditions, many lawns, once lush and green, are looking more like hay fields. It is normal for traditional Utah grasses to struggle with the current heat and drought. Brown or golden patches may be forming and growing in lawns. The good news, though, is that these grasses possess the capability to recover from extreme weather conditions. Consider this information before giving up on your turf.
Dormancy is the physiological process grass uses to protect itself from heat and drought. Usually when grass appears to be dead this time of year, it is actually dormant. Dormancy is characterized by a complete cessation of growth along with brown or dead grass blades. Grass blades are less of a concern than the crown of the grass plant, which is at the soil surface and is the point from which the grass blades grow up and the roots grow down. As long as the crown remains alive, grass has the capability to recover when temperature and moisture conditions improve. By entering dormancy, grasses are protecting their crowns for future recovery.
When heat and drought reach a certain level, be aware that no amount of irrigation water will coax your grass out of dormancy. However, as temperatures drop and moisture conditions improve, the grass will recover naturally.
You may find that as your grass becomes more stressed from heat and drought, weeds and insects can become a problem. This will be less of an issue if your lawn was healthy before the hot weather took over. Wait to control weeds until the grass has begun to recover. Pulling weeds by hand works well, but using herbicides can damage already stressed grass. The reduced root growth that occurs when grasses are in dormancy can also increase the injury caused by root-feeding insects. However, it is often difficult to diagnose insect problems when grass is dormant. Be certain you are dealing with an insect problem before using insecticides, and always read and follow label directions.
Though it may be tempting, completely giving up on grass irrigation is not recommended. You may want to cut back to a very small amount of irrigation — just enough to keep the crowns of the grass plants alive. This low amount of irrigation is known as survival watering. For the cool-season grasses traditionally grown in Utah, this can be as little as one inch of irrigation water per month. It can be disbursed in one application or split into two or three applications. It will not keep the grass from entering dormancy, but it will help the grass crowns survive and recover.
Dormancy is a helpful, protective process that should not be feared. Instead, be patient and recognize that it will help your grass recover in the fall.
For more information on drought-related issues, visit www.extension.usu.edu/drought. The site has information on landscape irrigation, agricultural water issues, indoor conservation, frequently asked questions and upcoming events.
Submit Your Suggestion
Other Questions In This Topic
- We have solanum dulcamara, creeping nightshade, growing in our back yard. I could use some advice in how to get rid of it. Also, how dangerous is the plant to touch? Is the plant dangerous only when ingested?
- I live at an elevation of 6000ft. I am West of Cedar City in the mountains. I would like to know, what is the best low water and high traffic grass I should plant. I would like the type of grass that will stay green as early and as long as possible as well. Thank You Also, any good shade varieties?
- What fall gardening tasks will help reduce plant pests next year?
- What is killing all the scrub oak and where can I find information on how to save the scrub oak I have that has not been affected by it yet?
- Last year my maple tree started losing leaves. I investigated and found it full of earwigs under the bark. I killed the bugs. The bark is falling off, Can I save my tree? It is over 20 years old.
- Is There Any Way To Eliminate Borers That Leave What Looks Like Sawdust At The Base Of Our Aspen Trees?
- My roses and boxelder trees have sticky (sap) leaves, what is causing this problem?
- What tasks should I be doing now in my orchard?