Hot July, hot and dry August and now hot and dry September: what do we do with our lawns under these growing conditions? Fall is generally the time when most of us, including myself, take care of important lawn care practices. Generally, this is the best time to do it all for your lawn, except this year.
The dry weather has most of our lawns either approaching dormancy or in dormancy from the lack of rain. If you want to take care of some lawn practices this fall and you have not been watering, and where you are will allow you to use water on your lawn (there isn't a watering ban), then you will need to start now to water regularly to get enough water to the root zone of your turf.
This will probably take a couple of weeks of regular watering in order to reach those roots and to get the grass growing again. Typical fall practices for lawns will only add to the stress of what is already a stressed lawn from the drought.
At this point there are a few things not to do. They are: aerate-aeration is a great fall practice, but it places stress on the plants and may cause the turf quality to decline. Do not dethatch or vertical mow as this tears leaves and crowns and should only be done when the lawn is healthy.
Do not spray herbicides whether it is systemic or contact herbicides since these two work much better when weeds are actively growing. Do not fertilize with a quick release nitrogen because it has a negative impact on the lawn grass and do not mow too often or too low.
This also will help the grass to recover.
There are some things that you can do during this time. You can do your best to maintain moisture, if possible, to promote grass recovery. There are still many places that are not allowing grass to be irrigated. You can spot seed and fertilize thin or weak areas of your lawn. You can also fertilizer with slow release nitrogen during this time and finally, aerate if there is reasonable grass growth after rain or irrigation. You might be able to cover two things at once since it is very important to keep watering, weekly, your perennial flowers, shrubs, small trees and so forth until it rains again or it is too cold to run the hose anymore.
We don't want to be out there watering everything every day but we need to be reasonable about it and make sure that these types of plants are healthy and vigorous to make it through the winter months that are coming ahead. It will not be unusual to be watering into November if the weather remains warm.
Care will need to be used in case the nighttime temperatures drop more then what they have and so it becomes more important to water first thing in the morning, and remove your hose from the house so it doesn't freeze pipes. Things will also go better if you can drain the hose water so you don't have to wait for it to warm up during the morning hours.
For more information on gardening, you can reach me at Stephanie@starpoint.net