Helping Your Lawn Beat the Heat

Jul. 13th, 2020 by W Scott McAdam Jr.

During our current stretch of dry and exceedingly hot conditions, proper irrigation of lawns is an urgent topic. It is important for the overall health of the turf, as well as to mitigate potential insect or disease presence. 

Even when people irrigate their lawns, they can suffer from a lack of drought tolerance that stems usually from one reason or another—or some combination of the two:

Mistake #1 – Watering at the wrong time

During very hot periods, if you water in the middle of the day, then much of the moisture will evaporate without absorbing. Do it at night, and those dark, wet, and warm conditions can trigger fungal growth.

Mistake #2 – Watering on an improper schedule

It is common to think that watering every day will help, but short, frequent irrigation results in shallow root systems that do not have drought tolerance. Instead, deep, infrequent irrigation is the key. Begin your irrigation around 3 or 4 a.m., for 45 to 60 minutes per zone, two times per week. 

This will allow the surface moisture to dry during the day and mitigate disease pressures. The roots will grow deeper into the soil and improve the drought tolerance of the turf. And that, in turn, will provide enough moisture to keep your lawn looking green and healthy.

This installment of "Ask the Plant Expert" will be published in the July 15, 2020 edition of the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, the Forest Park Review and the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark.