We hate to say it, but while we’re out enjoying the warm weather and sunshine of summer, our lawns are crying out for help! Factors like intense heat, heavy foot traffic, aggressive weeds, damaging pests, and high humidity levels are common threats to our lawns this time of year and cause stressed grass. Together, these factors can lead to stressed grass and unfortunately, stressed grass results in an unbecoming lawn. Just like humans, grass is vulnerable when it’s under major stress. Lawn disease, nutrient deficiencies, pest infestations, and weeds are like moths to a flame when your lawn is stressed. What’s worse, sometimes several of these issues can occur at once, making yard work a nightmare for homeowners who are simply wanting a nice lawn. If this is the case, your stressed grass is in need of some immediate TLC to make it through the upcoming months. Keep your lawn healthy and lush by first understanding how these factors cause damage to your once-healthy yard.
5 Factors that Lead to Stressed Grass
1. Summer Heat
Have you ever fallen asleep in a lawn chair and woken up to hot, red skin? Heat from the summer sun can have a similar effect on your poor, unsuspecting grass. Several hours of direct sunlight each day can cause individual blades of grass to yellow and shrivel up, especially if it’s not getting enough water. Bare patches and erosion are also a result from the summer heat. Unfortunately, these areas can be hard to get back to normal, so protection against the heat will be the key for saving your lawn. Plant trees in your lawn to provide shade from the summer sun and add interest to your landscaping. Learn more about the best types of trees to plant in your yard.
2. Heavy Foot Traffic
Summertime also means you, your family, and your pets are likely spending more time enjoying your yard. A significant increase in foot traffic can take a major toll on your lawn. Heavy foot traffic can compact the soil over time, preventing oxygen, water, and nutrients from reaching the grass’ roots. Because of this, your grass will eventually stop growing and die altogether if the soil stays compacted for too long. In the Carolinas, this is especially important to stay on top of as clay-heavy soil is found across the entire state.
3. Aggressive Weeds
Weeds are another major problem for stressed grass in the summer. Like any other plant, weeds require sunlight, nutrients, and water to grow. Grass that is already stressed is more susceptible to weeds. Aggressive weed types will choke out your grass, steal nutrients from the soil, and make your yard unattractive and uninviting. Once weeds are in the picture, this endless, vicious cycle will keep going and going, sometimes making it difficult to regain control of your yard.
4. Insect and Rodent Infestations
Pest infestations are especially common this time of year. As insects and rodents are more active, they’re likely to be attracted to your grass.Grass serves as a food source and form of shelter for many types of insects, which in turn leads to — you guessed it — stressed grass! Grub infestations are one example of a serious pest problem in Carolina lawns. These larvae bury themselves deep under the soil’s surface and feast on the root systems below, causing spongy lawns and large brown spots. Getting rid of grubs is crucial because they also attract several species of wildlife that like to eat them.Likewise, rodents and other small mammals use grass for shelter and as a food source. Mice, voles, moles, and squirrels are just a few pests that can cause stressed grass. Their excessive digging for insects and chewing is what actually ruins your lawn. If you have pets, be aware that these rodents spread Leptospirosis through their urine, so it’s wise to have wildlife removed from your yard to keep your family and pets safe from disease.
5. High Humidity Levels
Fungal diseases can emerge if your lawn never gets the chance to dry out in between waterings. High humidity levels during the warmer months add to the overall moisture levels in your grass and can result in disease. Fungal growth will look different depending on the type of mold that is growing. You may notice white, brown, or yellow rings that spread in size. Or, a grey-black powdery substance coating the grass surface. Regardless of the type of fungus, simple steps can be taken to make sure stressed grass isn’t overly wet.
7 Tips to Fix Stressed Grass
Once you know what causes stressed grass, you can take action to prevent further damage. Here are some simple steps to de-stress your lawn for a beautiful yard you can enjoy this summer.
1. Avoid walking on grass
This tip can be difficult to execute, especially if you have pets or young children who like to play outdoors. However, walking on grass (wet or dry) is very damaging to your lawn. Walking on dry grass will create tears and mat it together, eventually creating an obvious and unsightly path from your grass being worn down over time. On the other hand, heavy foot traffic on wet grass can lead to soil compaction, which as we mentioned keeps air from reaching the grassroots. Avoid walking on the grass by using sidewalks and pavers to guide people to and from your home and encouraging your kids or pets to play in a designated area instead.
2. Make sure your mower is sharp and high
The simplest step of all is to let your grass grow a little longer in the summer. Taller grass grows deeper roots, and deeper roots can reach moisture that’s further down in the soil. This can help stressed grass grow stronger and become less vulnerable to the many factors we’ve mentioned so far. You also want to mow your grass often during the growing season to encourage healthy growth–once per week is about average.It’s also important to keep your mower blades sharp so that you get clean cuts every time. Dull blades will tear your grass, making it lose essential moisture and look brown. You can even leave the grass clippings behind afterward for an organic nutrient boost!
3. Resist overfeeding
The more stressed your lawn is, the less it will grow. Resist the urge to ‘fix’ your lawn by throwing all kinds of fertilizer and seeds at it. Feeding a lawn that’s not growing is a waste of time and money. Plus, the hot weather and fertilizer can severely burn and permanently ruin your lawn. Instead, feed your grass in the spring when the weather is cooler to prepare it for the upcoming months. Related:Does Tree And Shrub Fertilizer Actually Work?
4. Water in the mornings
As a rule of thumb, the best time to water your lawn is between 6 am and 10 am. When you water your grass in the dead heat of a summer afternoon, a lot of the water will be lost to evaporation. Whereas when you water in the evening, you risk inviting all sorts of lawn diseases to take over. Watering in the morning is ideal and will prevent stressed grass that's suffering from dehydration. Make life easier by scheduling your sprinkler system to do it for you!
5. Get rid of pests
Whether you’re dealing with insects or intrusive rodents, don’t let them stick around! Though there are a handful of beneficial insects, anything that doesn’t support your lawn in some way needs to be removed immediately. Keep pests away with some easy DIY methods like essential oils. If you find you have a pest infestation that’s out of your control, consult a pest professional to efficiently eliminate whatever pest is causing your stressed grass.
6. Replace your stressed grass
As a last resort, you can always replace stressed grass if it seems like nothing is helping. Choose a hardier grass type that works best for the light and moisture conditions in your yard. You can choose to lay down sod or seed the yard yourself if you’d like to start from scratch. Again, if you’re not sure how to go about installing sod or seeding your lawn, a professional lawn care expert can help you decide which grass type will thrive in your lawn and replace it for you! Related: How To Choose The Right Grass For Your Lawn
7. Spring maintenance
Preventing stressed grass in the summer starts by maintaining your lawn in the spring! Stay on top of weeds and keep an eye out for cool-season grass weeds starting to rear their ugly heads. Take this time to mulch flower and tree beds, and pull out any weeds by hand. Keeping the entire area free of weeds will make sure your grass stays happy, as it won’t be competing for sunlight, water, and nutrients!
Preventing Stressed Grass this Summer
Your lawn deserves to relax, too! Help it get there this summer by performing crucial yard maintenance as soon as possible and before it’s too late for your stressed grass to make a comeback.