Turf Care Under the Hot Sun, Part 4

Parts 1-3 of this series have dealt with considerations of watering, mowing and fertilization that greatly impact turf performance in hot summer weather.  The final segment, part 4, deals with several random strategies that will help lawns and other turf areas grow well.  These common sense management practices are as follows:


*Designate “hydrozones” in the landscape.  Create a maintenance hierarchy between high and low maintenance lawn areas.  Mark off a small area for children to play games on and for entertaining and maintain it with regular watering techniques.  The rest of the lawn can be allowed to go dormant if it is Kentucky bluegrass or provided less irrigation if it is zoysia or tall fescue.


*Avoid edging the lawn.  Edging creates more opening in the turf blades than mowing and allows a great deal of moisture loss.  This procedure is for cosmetic enhancement, and is not a high priority in a hot dry summer.  When cooler weather returns in fall, edging can be done then.


*Reduce traffic on the lawn.  Restrict traffic to the high maintenance hydrozone and hard surfaces such as the patio.  Traffic is a stressor, causing bruised grass blades and subsequent moisture loss.


*Avoid herbicide use.  Use of broadleaf herbicides for weed control tends to stress the grass plants a bit, causing them to be weakened.  Instead of applying a herbicide, simply pull the weeds or allow them to grow.  They can be easily controlled in the fall when cooler, moister weather returns.


*Check the quality of the irrigation water.  Irrigation with water containing fine sediments can cause the sealing of the soil surface, resulting in poor water infiltration.  This can be very limiting in a drought, when every drop from Mother Nature is precious.  You can check for sediment in the water source by allowing a small sample to sit overnight in a glass jar.  If necessary, contact a lawn sprinkler company to install an in-line filter.


John Fech
Horticulture Extension Educator at Nebraska Extension
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.
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