Grass scientist: ‘Less is more’ when protecting your lawn during hot and dry weather

Even though you may be spending more time outside this summer, are you paying attention to the state of your yard? Drought conditions and extreme heat can take a toll on your lawn.

“The best tip is less is more,” said Dan Sandor, an assistant professor of Turfgrass Science at Virginia Tech. “Less traffic on the turf, less wear and tear.”

The D.C. area has suffered from extreme heat and heat waves for the last few weeks — with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality even declaring parts of the state were under a drought watch or warning.

The department recommended Virginians to minimize their water use, keep an eye on drought conditions and check for and repair water leaks.

Sandor is also sharing some of his recommendations to protect your lawn during the summer heat:

  • Keep off your grass as much as possible, including foot traffic and with heavy equipment
  • Do not water your lawn every day. Stagger out your irrigation by splitting it up into two or three applications a week
  • Do not apply fertilizer
  • Raise your mowing height up to four inches

If you’re not sure if your lawn needs more water, Sandor said you can do a screwdriver test: “Stick a screwdriver in the ground and pull it out. And if there’s still soil sticking to it, you can tell if there’s still some moisture in there. But if you pull it out, and it’s as dry as it was when it went in, there’s probably not a lot of moisture in the ground.”

Sandor said that in the fall you should consider reseeding your lawn with drought-tolerant grass varieties, and don’t panic if your lawn shows signs of drought-stress.

“Don’t be too concerned. The grass will recover. It knows what to do,” he said. “Once we get some cooler temperatures and some rainfall, they’ll bounce right back.”

WTOP’s Ciara Wells and Luke Lukert contributed to this report.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2024 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Linh Bui

Linh most recently worked at WJZ in Baltimore as a reporter and anchor from 2013-2023 and is now teaching at the University of Maryland. Prior to moving to the D.C. region, Linh worked as a reporter and anchor at stations in Fort Myers, Fla. and Macon, Ga.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up