Here in Maryland, we are in the middle of a summer heat wave. With temperatures regularly in the 90s, and clear skies bringing sunshine down onto our lawns during the long summer days, our plant life struggles to survive. Our cool-season lawn grasses, including Kentucky bluegrass and turf-type tall fescue, are better suited to temperatures between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Naturally, during intense periods of heat these grasses require different care. Read on to learn more about how summer heat can affect grasses and trees and how you can protect your lawn from the effects of a heat wave.
Water Grasses Deeply During a Heat Wave
During periods of intense heat, it is best to water all grass types deeply and infrequently. This deep watering promotes deep rooting, reduces the growth rate, mowing requirements and conserves sugars the grasses need to survive the summer heat.
Irrigate the grasses when there are visible symptoms of drought, such as a pale blue-green color, lingering footprints, and a firm soil surface.
Practice Irrigation Before Sunrise
Plants have a hard time cooling during high humidity, so resist the urge to irrigate more when the heat index increases. Irrigate early in the morning when the air temperature is coolest.
Afternoon or early evening irrigation will lock the heat in the soil, which puts stress on the roots. These late applications of irrigation can also promote fungal diseases in cool season grasses because the leaves stay wet into the nighttime hours. Finally, do not try to cool the turf grass with light irrigation throughout the day. This encourages disease and weed outbreaks and has no significant impact on the temperature of the canopy.
Address Lawn Scorch
During a heat wave, your lawn is at higher risk for scorch. This is a condition that can affect grass and plants exposed to long periods of heat. The signs are brown or yellow patches or stripes that suddenly appear on your lawn. What can you do to fix this?
To avoid scorch caused by high heat, give scorched spots a good soaking one to two times per week. Again, time your watering carefully so your lawn is not wet during the evening.
Summer Leaf Drop
Have you noticed your trees are losing leaves? If the leaves are being dropped from the lower and interior part of the canopy, this signifies summer heat damage. The tree is shedding its leaves during this heat wave to reduce the potential for greater water loss.
Some deep and consistent irrigation can help reduce the leaf drop and keep your tree happy, but ultimately some leaf shed is not the end of the world or the end of your tree, but rather an adaptation of the tree to survive high heat.
Scientific Plant Service Is Your Go-To Source In Landscape Healthcare
Scientific Plant Service, located in Baltimore, is a privately owned corporation, chartered in Maryland in 1957 by Frank J. Burke. We started as a full-service Arborists specializing in the care of shade trees and ornamental shrubs, but today we are a Lawn Care company that is a huge part of the community. From aquatic environments and snow management to deer and mole control, SPS has services tailored specifically for your lawn and landscape.
We offer services in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia, including: Harford, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Howard, Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Prince Georges, Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Calvert counties in MD, as well as Loudoun County, Fairfax County, Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church in VA. For more information, contact us online, or call us at 410-321-0970. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest!