Drought Stress

Lawns

Rainfall in New Jersey has been half of normal or less for the month of July alone.

Grasses will eventually experience drought stress if water is withheld. Drought stress is a condition under which the grass blades turn gray green, then tan. The blade dies, but the crown and root system remain alive. When proper growing conditions resume, the plant grows again and new blades are sent up from the crown. Grass plants may die eventually if the drought is too long, if the grass is marginally healthy to start with (poor growing conditions or cultural practices), or if the grass is a perennial rye or other drought- intolerant type.

Look for the following signs and consider watering when you see at least one of them:

1. Folding leaf blades. Drought-stressed lawns will curl up their leaf blades lengthwise in an attempt to minimize leaf area. Wilting is best seen on the older leaves of the grass plant, as the younger leaves are not fully developed and may appear wilted even when they are not.

2. Blue-gray color. Drought-stressed lawns turn from green to bluish-gray.

3. Footprints remaining visible. When footprints or tire tracks remain visible on your lawn long after being made, your lawn is experiencing drought stress.

Watering Tips for Drought Stressed Lawns

  • Cool-season grasses such as bluegrass, fescues and ryegrass will naturally go into dormancy during high temperatures and drought. Dormancy protects plants from extreme desiccation and high temperatures. Lawns will normally resume growing once proper temperature and moisture returns.

  • Lawns should be irrigated after 10 p.m. and before 8 a.m. to conserve water and reduce the potential for foliar disease. They require about 1½ inches to 2 inches of water per week, depending on temperature, humidity and soil type. Deep, infrequent irrigation is best under normal temperatures.

  • During excessively high temperatures, irrigation will be needed more often. Turf will show signs of drought stress by turning brown and growing brittle.

     

     

     

     

     

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