Dry, Hot Weather and Your Lawn

Lawn Care

Heat stressed grass

Dry and Hot Spell in Virginia

You may be enjoying the warmer, sunnier weather we're having, but your lawn is not! Virginia is experiencing a very tough dry spell at the moment, and it is possible to see browning occur in your lawn. With no foreseeable rain in the next 10 days doing any watering you can will help – at the right time of day of course.

During a drought, Fescue exhibits several survival mechanisms to cope with the stress of limited water availability:

  1. Reduced Growth: Fescue grass slows down its growth rate during drought conditions to conserve energy and resources. This reduction in growth allows the grass to allocate its limited resources more efficiently.
  2. Dormancy: Fescue grass has the ability to go dormant during extended periods of drought. Dormancy is a survival mechanism where the grass stops growing and turns brown to conserve water and energy. While the grass may appear dead, it is actually alive and can recover once favorable growing conditions return.
  3. Deep Root Growth: Fescue grass has deep root systems that can penetrate into the soil to access water stored deeper underground. During drought, the grass may extend its roots even deeper in search of moisture, helping it survive longer periods of dryness.
  4. Leaf Rolling: Fescue grass may exhibit leaf rolling conditions as a way to reduce water loss through transpiration. Rolling the leaves reduces the surface area exposed to sunlight, minimizing water loss through evaporation.

Overall, Fescue has evolved various strategies to survive drought conditions, including reduced growth, dormancy, deep root growth, leaf rolling, and adaptations in leaf structure. These mechanisms allow Fescue to withstand periods of limited water availability and maintain its survival until more favorable growing conditions return.

During a drought, it's crucial to be strategic with your Fescue watering to ensure the grass survives while also conserving water. Here's a snippet of our watering tips:

  1. Water Deeply and Infrequently: Instead of frequent shallow watering, encourage deep root growth by watering deeply but less often. Aim for about 1.5 inches of water per week, applied in three watering sessions. Based on weather conditions, you may need to water longer during each session.
  2. Water in the Early Morning: Watering early in the morning reduces water loss due to evaporation and ensures that the grass has access to moisture throughout the day. Avoid watering during the hottest parts of the day, as this can lead to excessive water loss.
  3. Monitor Soil Moisture: Before watering, check the soil! Push a screwdriver into the ground. If it glides in, there's enough moisture. If it resists, it's watering time. 
  4. Promote Healthy Soil: Healthy soil retains moisture better than compacted or poor-quality soil. Regularly aerate and seed your lawn in fall to improve soil structure and promote better water infiltration.

By understanding Fescue's natural defenses and following these watering tips, you can ensure your lawn survives the drought and thrives when the rains return!

Need More Help?

Virginia Green's team of agronomists are here to help. If you have any questions or need help diagnosing an issue on your lawn, please don't hesitate to contact us today.

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