How To Keep Your Lawn Alive During The Drought

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The drought and extreme heat are making it difficult for many Kansans to keep their grass and trees healthy. Experts say there are steps you can take to help your lawn survive the summer.

Rebecca McMahon is a horticulture expert for the Sedgwick County Extension Office. She says there is no way to keep your lawn green and lush under these conditions, but you can keep it alive.

"Fescue grass doesn't really tolerate the high heat conditions and can be damaged even if you're watering it," said McMahon. "With the drought we're having there's just no way to provide enough water to keep the grass healthy and green without it going dormant."

McMahon says some brown patches are to be expected because that means the grass is going dormant.

"It doesn't mean it's dying. But what you want to do is make sure you're giving it enough water to keep the grass alive," she said.

McMahon says lawns that were seeded or sodded in the spring are struggling even more because the roots haven't yet had time to establish. She warns that overseeding lawns this fall might be a wasted effort because the drought cycle will likely still be in place.

Extension agent Bob Neier says trees are also thirsty and stressed from the heat and drought, especially maples.

"I'm seeing (dying) silver maples all over town. People are losing them because they weren't watering last summer. And if you've got some looking great, then water them so you don't lose them now."

Neier says dropping leaves is a defensive mechanism trees use during these spells. He says it doesn't mean the tree is dying, but rather a sign that it needs water.

"If we don't get supplemental water on these (trees) next year, then that whole branch may have died back," he said.

In addition to losing branches, Neier says stressed trees are also vulnerable to other problems.

"Trees that are weakened, especially ash, are susceptible to bores," he said.

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