Behind the Forecast: How to keep lawns luscious in a heatwave

Listen to Science Behind the Forecast with Meteorologist Tawana Andrew every Friday on 89.3 WFPL at 7:45 a.m.
Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 9:37 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - It's summer, so hot temperatures are just a part of life now. 

We're continuing to deal with a heatwave. A heatwave is more than three days with highs above 90°.

Sometimes with the heat comes dry conditions; the pair is not good for our lawns and gardens. 

Most lawns are a mixture of grasses, including Kentucky Bluegrass. Kentucky Bluegrass is a cool-season grass. Cool-season grasses only have an optimum temperature range between 60° and 75°. They are best at absorbing and converting carbon dioxide at these temperatures. It requires quite a bit of work to keep it lush and green; the grass needs one to two inches of water per week and routine fertilization. All of that work means more a lot of mowing. 

There are a few ways to keep your workload minimal. You could let your lawn go dormant. While it's not pretty, turning brown and fading is what cool-season grasses do during the summer months. Your lawn may look like it's given up the ghost, it's just resting, not dead. Once cooler temperatures and more rain return in the fall, your lawn will become green once again. 

Another option, planting warm-season grasses like Buffalo grass. Buffalo grass thrives in the summer and can survive with a third of the water that Kentucky Bluegrass needs. During cooler weather, Buffalo grass will go dormant, turning brown. 

For your garden, keep in mind that all crops need consistent watering to produce a good bounty. 

A layer of mulch, two inches deep, can help the soil around plants stay moist. Weeds absorb nutrients and water your plants need to remove those as soon as possible. 

Fertilized plants need more water than usual, but it's important to reduce the amount of fertilizer used during heatwaves. Extreme heat coupled with fertilizer may cause fertilizer burns on cool-season grasses. For warm-season grasses, fertilization during the summer months is beneficial.

Make sure your mower blades are sharp when cutting your lawn. Dull mower blades tear grass blades, causing them to leak moisture

Experts recommend the following to keep your lawns luscious and green during the summer:

A caveat to these tips is containers. Plants in containers may need water daily. 

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