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Dry Yellow Grass

Diagnosing Heat Stress on Your Lawn

Jun 21, 2019

Diagnosing Heat Stress on Your Lawn

Protecting Your Turf During Hot, Dry Weather

Dry Lawn with Hose

School is out, summer plans are underway, and backyard season has officially begun! The last piece of the puzzle needed for summer enjoyment is a lush, green, healthy lawn. Unfortunately, the extreme temperatures of the season can often cause a formerly vibrant lawn to dry out and wither.


One of the most common conditions lawns succumb to in the summer is heat stress. Heat stress occurs during consistently hot, dry weather when a lawn is experiencing moisture loss. Although it’s not always easy to diagnose, here are a few common indicators that your grass may be under stress:




 How to Tell if Your Lawn Has Heat Stress


Footprints Across Your Lawn (Ghost Prints)

Have you ever walked on your lawn only to have the grass remain flat and not bounce back right away? This is usually the first sign that your lawn is drying out and needs immediate attention. Ignoring the problem will only cause the issue to spread until the entire lawn is affected.


Grass Discoloration

Lawns suffering from heat stress often experience discoloration – either to entire blades of grass or just the tips. However, this symptom can be a tricky one. Many other turf issues – such as insect damage and disease – can also cause grass blades to turn straw-colored or brown. Try watering your lawn to see if the color improves. If there are no signs of re-greening, contact your local Weed Man professional, as you may an insect problem on your hands.


Soil Compaction

Try pushing a screwdriver into the surface of your lawn. If you can easily insert the tool, then your yard likely has adequate moisture. If you face resistance, then the soil requires additional water.


Treating Heat Stress on Your Lawn

If you’re fairly certain your lawn is suffering from heat stress, don’t delay. Take the following steps to help your lawn bounce back as quickly as possible:

  • Confirm that there is not another issue at play, such as chinch bug or grub damage. To verify, take a close look at your turf. If chinch bugs are the culprit, you may be able to see small black and white insects crawling between the grass blades. Grub-damaged turf, on the other hand, will roll back like a carpet when tugged on. 


  • Water deeply and infrequently (2-3 times per week). Morning watering is highly recommended, as afternoon watering can lead to early evaporation, while night watering can cause various forms of turf disease. 


  • Refrain from mowing too low. Cutting too short can impact the lawn’s ability to produce the energy needed for growth. Never remove more than one-third of the leaf blade in a single mowing session. 


  • Keep your mower blade sharp. This will help the grass plants heal faster while preventing a brown appearance in the lawn.


  • Avoid compacting the soil further. This means no heavy foot traffic or heavy mowing equipment. Weed Man’s core aeration can relieve this compaction through its process of mechanically removing cores of soil, ultimately encouraging the uptake of nutrients and oxygen through a deeper root system.


  • Fertilization following a period of drought is critical for providing grass with an extra boost of nutrients that will be stored and used during the upcoming seasons. Weed Man’s fertilizer is specifically designed for this weather and its impact on home lawns. Unlike a liquid fertilizer, our exclusive slow-release granular fertilizer is available when your lawn needs it. 


  • Consider overseeding to improve the look and health of your lawn this spring. Overseeding refers to the process of planting grass seed on pre-existing turf. It aids in turf recovery and will work to improve your lawn’s appearance.


  • Allow your lawn to go dormant if the stress is severe. With the right care, your lawn should green back up again and make a full recovery.


Is There Anything Else You Should Note?

  • Weed control: Weed control products can be tough on a lawn when it is drought stressed. For homeowners living in areas with pesticide restrictions, iron-based weed control can temporarily blacken the grass. For these reasons, your lawn care professional may suspend planned weed control or choose to spot treat weeds instead to minimize additional stress.


  • Clay soil: In hot, dry conditions, clay soils can become rock hard, to the point where water cannot penetrate them. Lawns with clay soils should be aerated at least once per season in order to alleviate this as much as possible.


  • Sandy soil: Homeowners with sandy soils may find that it is hard for the lawn to retain moisture in the summer. However, there are steps that can be taken to improve water retention, such as mulching grass clippings (as opposed to bagging), or top dressing the lawn with triple mix soils.


  • Mowing: Proper mowing can have a huge impact on the appearance of your lawn. Be sure to never mow more than ½ of the grass blade at a time, and to always mow with a razor-sharp blade.


If you notice anything unusual, feel free to contact your local Weed Man Professional. They will visit your lawn and help diagnose any problems with a free Healthy Lawn Analysis.


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