Thermometer placed in heat stressed lawn.

Caring for a Heat-Stressed Lawn

When temperatures get too hot to stay outdoors, most of us find shade underneath a nearby tree or go inside our homes to cool off for a bit. Our lawns, however, don’t have this luxury.

Instead, they remain under the intense heat of the sun. And when they experience prolonged periods of high temperatures with little-to-no rainfall, the conditions start to take a toll on their well-being. 

Signs of a Heat Stressed Lawn

A common symptom of heat stress in lawns is discoloration. Depending on the severity of your surrounding weather forecast, you may notice a change of color on the tips or the entire blades of your grass. Colors can range from a light straw color or brown shade. 

Other common signs of heat stress include:

  • Soil compaction
  • Footprints or markings left behind
  • Grass blades beginning to curl

Is Heat Stress Permanent or Temporary?

When your lawn becomes stressed from extreme heat, its natural defense mechanism is to become dormant. When this happens, its root system will shrink underneath the soil to reduce the amount of water it needs. This process also allows it to conserve its energy, so it has a better chance of making a full recovery, once the high temperatures decrease and go back to normal. 

However, it’s essential that you continue to care for your lawn, even during a dry spell to avoid any potential damage that can become permanent and result in you needing to replace your turf.

How to Care for Your Heat-Stressed Lawn

Your natural instinct may be to water your lawn regularly. But this can actually cause more grass damage. Instead, you’ll want to focus on two essential steps to support your grass during the dog days of summer:

  1. Water deeply and infrequency
  2. Avoid further soil compaction

Let’s break these down even more. 

Watering Deeply and Infrequently

When your grass is heat-stressed, you’ll want to ensure the water reaches deep down into its root system. It’s recommended that you only water your lawn 1x per week, saturating it to 1″ depth.

Be sure to water your lawn during the early morning hours vs. afternoon or evening, as evaporation is low.

Why can’t I water more?

The reason you’ll want to avoid overwatering your grass is because you want to encourage its roots to grow deep underneath the soil vs. bringing them up to the surface. Remember, your grass is already using its natural resources to protect itself during unusually hot weather conditions. Therefore, your goal is to provide it with the water it needs (and no more) to stay in its dormant state until these extreme conditions change.

Signs of overwatering include puddles of water left over or run off. 

Avoid further soil compaction

If your lawn is heat stressed, be sure to avoid having people and pets walk over it. You’ll also want to avoid leaving heavy equipment on it, as well. You may also decide to remove any lawn furniture.

When soil becomes compacted, it makes it harder for air to circulate and reach your grass’s root system. Compacted soil can also reduce water filtration and drainage, resulting in you overwatering your lawn. 

Another important lawn care tip you’ll want to practice is knowing when and how often to mow your lawn, especially if it’s showing signs of heat stress. Just be sure not to mow dormant turf. 

To learn more about mowing during hot weather, read our recent blog article!

Still Feeling Stressed about the Heat?

Many of us enjoy the summer months, especially for its sunny days and warmer temperatures. But as a homeowner, it’s important to protect your lawn and provide it with the care it needs to once again return to its lavish color and texture. 

For questions about summer lawn care, contact us for more tips and organic lawn care solutions. Remember to stay connected to our blog for helpful how-to guides and articles to help you tackle common lawn issues both organically and responsibility.