Some Helpful Info From Our Friends At Lawndawg

Some Helpful Info From Our Friends At Lawndawg

We just got some really great info from out friends at LawnDawg.  It’s important to remember that even though it might be rainy right now, long periods of dry weather can cause some considerable stress for your lawn.  The following info is courtesy of LawnDawg:


As we make our way into the middle of May, there are wide areas of the Lawn Dawg service area that are far below normal in rainfall. In addition to that, we have had a couple of temperature spikes, meaning that after a long period of cool weather, the thermometer suddenly shoots into the 80’s and beyond. Taken together, your lawn may be suffering from some drought stress.


drought chart 2013


Drought stress? Yes, drought stress.


Drought stress is a response the turfgrass plants have to lack of available water in the soil.


When we have windy conditions and low humidity, it doesn’t take any time at all to dry out the top few inches of soil.


To we humans, this seems absurd given the amount of rain we have had recently. But Mother Nature is an absolutist and doesn’t ask for our opinion. If the soil dries out, plants go into stress.


How can you tell if your lawn is going into drought stress?


The first signs are a purplish tint to the otherwise green color to the lawn, usually in an area that is exposed to full sun. If you walk across these areas, you will also notice that the grass that you stepped on will not readily return to its upright stance. This is known as lack of turgidity – the plant is not completely full of water.


Upon noticing areas with these signs, you can take a penknife and cut into the soil. If the soil is light in color and does not bind together then it is apparent that the soil has dried out. You can take another sample in an area that is still green and/or in the shade and compare the two samples.


Another phenomenon that we’re seeing is that of tire tracking. This usually happens in the middle of the summer when lawns are going into either drought stress, heat stress or both. Driving a lawn mower or any such equipment over a stressed lawn can result in brown tire tracks appearing a couple of days later. While the tracks are unsightly, they are temporary. As soon as normal growth resumes, the brown tissue will be overtaken by new, green tissue.


What you can do to help


First, you can avoid these tire tracks by not mowing your lawn during the heat of the day and ensuring that the lawn has adequate moisture during times of low rainfall.


Second, if you have an automatic irrigation system, run the system through manually and observe that each one of the heads is intact and rotating properly. Both lawn care and irrigation companies are besieged by phone calls in the late spring when temperatures go up and rainfall goes down, prompted by defective sprinkler heads or systems that are simply turned off.


Third, if the system is operating properly, you may wish to give the areas that are going into stress more time on your irrigation controller. For example, if it is currently getting 10 minutes of water, try going to 20 minutes, give it a few days and observe the results.


And remember the rule of thumb – it is better to water less frequently and more deeply than it is to water more frequently. Grass plants do actually react to how much water they receive as well as when and how often it is applied. And it really is a rule of thumb. Each and every lawn is unique, indeed there are often many lawns within a single lawn. Some areas use more water than others. You really need to identify these areas and customize your approach. That is where the science of turfgrass management yields to the art of turfgrass management.


Another thing you can do (and should be doing regardless of conditions) is to raise your mowing height to the highest setting that you and your lawn can tolerate. Leave the short grass to the golf course superintendents – ironically, they would like to be able to cut everything at the height that we recommend you cut at.


Ultimately, though, grass plants are incredibly resilient organisms. It is a rare circumstance indeed (like last summer) when Mother Nature withholds rain for so long that the plants die.


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