This summer it seems as though much of our once green grass has turned brown. The good news is many grasses will go dormant in the late summer if not watered frequently enough. The not-so-good news is that there is a possibility your grass is dying and you may need to re-plant this coming fall. Below we highlight ways to determine whether your grass is dead or just dormant, as well as tips on caring for your grass in extreme heat.
If you considered your lawn “healthy” before the drought – That is, receiving regular watering and mostly green, it could stay healthy as long as a month without rain or watering. Other grasses, such as fescue and bluegrass, tend to go dormant in the late summer when not watered frequently. So, how can you test to tell if your grass is simply resting or actually dying? Pull up a sample clump of your grass and check the area between the leaves and the roots, also known as the crown. If this area is firm, the grass is still healthy and has become dormant in the heat. If the crown is dry and frail, your grass may have not made it through the drought.
One should gradually decrease both the amount of water given in the early spring and early fall, as well as the time between the watering. Doing this in the early spring and early fall will help to ready your lawn for the extreme heat and lack of water that is common through the summer months.
So, what to do right now? Test your lawn. If your lawn is dormant, keep watering once a week to encourage green growth once the temperatures cool down. If your lawn has died, fall is a great time to sow grass seed for next year’s growth.
Sowing grass seed is very similar to sowing wildflower seed; For fall planting, wait until you have had a couple of hard frosts. Remove all existing growth, sprinkle seed on top of the soil, compress into the soil but do not cover. The seed will lie dormant until early spring. For more information on planting seed in the fall, click here.