What Is Drought Stress In Lawns & How Do I Prevent It?

Posted by Lush Lawn on Jun 22, 2023 12:52:39 PM

What is Drought Stress?

Drought stress, often manifested as dry and brown grass, is a common problem homeowners face when maintaining their lawns. As water becomes increasingly scarce in certain regions, it is essential to understand the causes of drought stress and learn effective strategies for prevention. 

When drought stress occurs, plants start to shut down in a bid to avoid dehydration loss. Extended periods of these conditions will lead to irreversible damage, as well as leaving it vulnerable to insect and disease infestations and, later on, winter damage.

One effective approach is moisture management, optimizing water usage and promoting soil moisture retention. In this article, we will explore the concept of drought stress, its impact on lawns, and how you can help prevent it.

Understanding Drought Stress

Drought stress occurs when the water supply available to plants falls below their requirements, leading to an imbalance in their water uptake and loss. 

Lawns, composed primarily of grass, are particularly vulnerable to drought stress due to their large surface area and shallow root systems. When faced with water scarcity, grass tends to turn dry, lose its vibrant green color, and eventually become brown and brittle.

Causes of Drought Stress

Several factors can contribute to drought stress in lawns, the most common being natural climate patterns. This can include prolonged periods of hot and dry weather, significantly reducing soil moisture levels. Additionally, improper watering practices, including infrequent or shallow watering, can discourage deep root growth and make lawns more susceptible to drought stress. 

Compacted soil, which hampers water infiltration and root development, further exacerbates the problem. This occurs when soil particles are packed closely together and is more common with heavier soils like clay and loam. However, if you’re using heavy equipment on your lawn or in the garden, it can cause a problem; even wheel tracks from a riding lawn mower can compact your soil.


Preventing Drought Stress with Moisture Management

Moisture management is a comprehensive approach to preventing drought stress in lawns by conserving and efficiently utilizing water resources. It involves adopting various techniques to optimize irrigation practices, improve soil structure, and promote moisture retention. 

Using Moisture Managers

Moisture managers, also known as soil surfactants, are used to enhance the water-holding capacity of soil and prevent excessive water loss. These specialized products reduce the surface tension of water, allowing it to spread evenly and penetrate deeper into the soil. As a result, moisture managers promote more efficient water use and help lawns endure dry periods with reduced stress.

The goal is for your moisture manager to significantly improve the water-holding capacity of the soil, reducing the need for frequent irrigation. This should also lead to enhanced soil structure by reducing soil compaction, allowing for better root penetration and the exchange of air and nutrients. This improved soil structure encourages deeper root growth, making lawns more resilient to drought stress.

The big benefit is that this will also minimize the risk of your lawn or plants becoming weakened by drought stress, minimizing the risk of pest infestations.

Other Tips For Avoiding Drought Stress

Water your lawn less often but to a greater depth: Water half an inch two times a week or a full inch once a week. Roots will grow deeper, allowing them to access water under even the hottest, driest circumstances.

Sharpen your mower blades: Dull equipment tears grass, leaving lots of little openings for moisture to leak.

Avoid feeding your grass until the drought is over: Your turn can’t use fertilizer until it has sufficient moisture to go with it, which can lead to a build-up of unprocessed fertilizers in your lawn.

Open up your soil by aerating: This will allow moisture to move through it more easily, so your grass can use whatever water is available.

Need Lawn Service Expertise? Lush Lawn Can Help

Sometimes, your grass needs a little help to overcome the effects of severe heat stress. Lush Lawn is happy to provide that help, and we can start the process today by requesting your free quote of service.

Topics: Lawn Care

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