Dry Conditions in Mid-Michigan Could Kill Lawns
For 22 years, Jane Crowner has taken care of her lawn through extreme weather, but this week, she's feeling a little extra challenged: "This is pretty close to the worst it's ever looked."
In the past, she's let nature take its course, figuring the lawn's brownish, yellowish color will turn back to a healthy green when there is rain again: "I don't really think it ever dies out completely. I've never had that happen anyway."
But as each day passes without a rain shower, she gets more worried it could die. Although, she's decided it would be too expensive to give it all the water it needs.
"Should it die, it should be less expensive to just re-seed it in the fall," Crowner continued.
Michigan State University Turf Specialist Kevin Frank says Jane is right about the dry, brown color of her lawn not being necessarily a bad sign.
"A lawn tries to go dormant to prevent any more water loss. So, kind of a natural survival instinct for the lawn," said Frank.
However, he says it is possible for it to die in these conditions, and that the only difference between dead and dormant grass is whether it turns green again: "You're never gonna be able to tell 100% until you return the moisture."
Frank also says people generally believe their lawns need more water than they actually do, saying at the very most (in the heat we're facing now), give it an inch of water a week, or about a quarter inch every other day.
For an easy way to measure how much water is making it to your lawn, Frank offers his technique: "Take some tuna cans, or small Tupperware-like containers, put them on your lawn, let the sprinkler run for a while, and then see how much water is actually in it."
A useful tip, but Jane will take her chances.