Lawn Care Tips

As a lawn care provider for 20+ years, my aim here is to provide some helpful hints, tips and advice to those who want to increase the health and appearance of the lawn they care for. Whether you are new to lawn care or an old hand, you will find information here that will save you time, money and wasted effort. Thanks for stopping by.


Saturday, April 09, 2005

Don’t Force Your Summer Lawn In and Out of Dormancy

During the growing season there is a period of time when many species of grass have depleted their reserves of food and energy in the effort to grow tall and produce seed. This time usually occurs just prior to the hottest days of Summer. These grasses, whether out in the wild or growing in a homeowner’s lawn, will go “dormant” during the hottest part of Summer unless they receive adequate amounts of water (be it from rain or the garden hose).

After the extreme heat of summer has passed and before the freezing temperatures of winter set in, most grasses will be spending their resources on producing food to be stored in their roots until the following Spring. At that time, the grass in your lawn will have enough reserves in storage to begin to grow again and start to make seed. During this process, most of these reserves will get used up, and the roots that were holding these reserves will become shorter, growing more shallow in the soil. So just when the hottest part of Summer begins, grass is naturally low on vigor and strength. The natural response to the heat (and possible drought situations) of summer is for grass to go into a “dormant” stage. During this stage the grass will slow or even stop growing - unless it is being artificially watered and fed.

Now given the information in the above paragraph, you must realize that, although your lawn may not look its best if you allow your lawn to go dormant, dormancy does not mean that your grass is dying. It is merely protecting itself until better conditions return. All too often a homeowner that does not water on a regular basis will look out onto their lawn after several days of extreme heat and say to themselves, “Oh my God! My lawn is dying in this heat!” Then they will proceed to drag out the garden hose and start watering their lawn. If a couple of days go by and their lawn looks only somewhat improved, they may decide, “I’ll water it some more!” What this homeowner is doing is sending a signal to their lawn that dormancy is not needed. Unfortunately, because the grass is now no longer dormant and is looking healthier, the homeowner may not water again until their lawn has again retreated into dormancy. I have seen homeowners do this - time and time again, all summer long.

The bottom line here is, do either one of two things. Number One: If you don’t like the look of your lawn when it is in a dormant stage (it does not look lush and green and healthy), then you must see to it that your lawn consistently receives approximately one inch of water a week all through the heat of summer. Or Number Two: If you do not want to water (or if you are unable to water) on a regular basis and your lawn goes into dormancy, then you should not force it in and out of dormancy all through the hot summer by arbitrary watering. It takes a lot of energy (which is in short supply) for your lawn to come out of dormancy. It is less stressful for your lawn if it has gone into dormancy to remain that way until more favorable temperatures return. If while a lawn is dormant it receives occasional rainfall or watering, it may remain dormant. Understand that when a lawn is dormant, the roots below the surface and the crown (or growing point of the grass plant) is still alive and it will come back.

NEXT TIME: How To Tell If Your Lawn Is Suffering From Lack of Water


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