It does not matter if you grass is cool season or warm season, it can suffer in the summer heat. Cool season grasses will go dormant under cooler temperatures than warm season, but all grass (and plants) suffer when the temps soar and cloud cover is sparse.
Signs of Summer Decline
The signs of summer decline are universal and varied. They are universal in that decline shows itself as browning and drying of grass blades. The variance is determined by the cause. Some summer decline will be a general browning, while other types will be patchy. Different insects may create certain yellow patterns, and fungus will create yet different patterns (and sometimes colors).
Reasons for Summer Decline
There are multiple reasons for summer decline besides normal dormancy.
1. Extended periods of high temperatures (normal dormancy):
Cool season grasses are known for going dormant during the heat of the summer, but even warm season grasses can experience this dormancy during severe summers.
2. Increased soil moisture:
Soil moisture is a good thing until it gets too moist. Then the grass simply gets waterlogged and can’t get the air it needs to breath. This also increases the risk of fungus.
When soil is compacted, there is poor air movement. This will exacerbate warm weather reactions in your lawn.
What to Do About Summer Decline
There are multiple ways to calm summer decline. Some of them involve prevention strategies, but some of them are maintenance strategies.
1. Increase mowing height:
One of the easiest things to do is heighten your lawn mower blade. This causes less stress to the lawn and can also shade the soil, so it doesn’t get so hot. Make sure your blade is sharp!
2. Remove shade:
Your lawn needs water year round, and the heat makes water evaporate quickly. Not in the shade. Especially for those who mistakenly chose to water at night, water combined with warm temps can be a recipe for mold/mildew in shady areas. Sunny lawns are often happy lawns in warm conditions because the water doesn’t stick around longer than it is needed.
3. Don’t fertilize cool season grass:
A stressed, possibly-dormant lawn does not need fertilizer. You may not be able to prevent dormancy of cool season grass during a warm summer. To reduce the effects of dormancy, focus on proper watering and mowing to keep it green as long as possible.
4. Don’t over water:
Your lawn does not need more water (unless you aren’t watering enough). Grass only needs 1 to 1.5 inches of water a week. Any more is suffocating and builds an environment that is disease prone.
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