May is moving along and so are the lawns. My friends to the north: that last little cold blast you got a few days ago is the end of it - I’m calling it - no more cold blasts. Summer is here! (almost)
My weather predictions aside, I highly encourage you to start thinking about the months ahead. That first heat spell of June will be here before you know it. Your lawn is going to be “spring drunk” and not prepared. It will check out, fast, especially if that hot spell turns into 3-4 days of blazing blue skies.
The longer days and more sun are awesome for you and your vitamin D levels. They are surely rising quickly as your pasty white legs blind small dogs when you mow. But that same straight sun is nothing but stress for your spring drunk lawn. It will shrivel up and turn crispy, fast.
PAUSE: Did you notice the change in terminology there?
Your “rain drunk” lawn (last year’s term) is now called a “Spring drunk” lawn. Let me elaborate.
In past years, when we have seen the normal amount of spring rains, I used the term rain drunk when describing how your lawn reacts to the transition from spring to summer. It’s usually pretty harsh actually.
One day in June you get home from work and realize out of nowhere that the clouds have all gone away and the humidity is up.
“Boy it sure is a hot one today ain’t it?” you said to a coworker you passed earlier on your way out to work.
Now you’re home from the office at 6:30PM and the sun is still really high in the sky! All the tulips are dying and the daylilies are raging. Even this late into the evening the sun has blasted the temps up into the 90s. Swass is a thing!
Soon you look over at your lawn just to see if the stripes are holding and instead are shocked in horror as what was once double-dark green/blue and growing like crazy is all of the sudden pock marked with splotches of gray and brown. You can even see the mail carrier’s footprints from hours earlier.
All in one day, sections of your once uniform green lawn took a hit and passed out. Rain drunk and hungover.
The overcast cooler days of spring where it rains several times per week end quickly sometime in June and the first day of 90 degrees kicks your lawn right in the face. It’s like a rain hangover or what I have called “the rain drunk lawn.” We see if every year, but this year, it’s going to be worse for some of you.
In much of the country, things are very dry right now!
I’m looking at Utah and Michigan as two states where I’ve had conversations with folks in our community who are telling me this. I’m sure surrounding states are in a similar position; a deficit of rainfall and it’s only May.
So this year, the lawn isn’t going to be rain drunk, instead, it will be “Spring drunk.” It’s not over-served on water and cool temps, instead, it’s been tricked into thinking it’s ok without all the water just because the temps have been mild, and downright colder than normal in a lot of cases. The cold has lulled the lawn into a state that is the exact opposite of a fat, lazy rain drunk lawn, it’s still in bad shape, but this time it’s actually dehydrated and depleted.
Right now though, the lawn doesn’t know what’s coming. And possibly you don’t either!
The top growth looks good but what is happening down below in that dry ground? It can’t be good, I know that much. And for sure, this state of being Spring Drunk is actually worse than rain drunkenness and that is because when the first hot day hits the lawn that is in a severe water deficit, it may not even have the energy to recover for quite some time.
The good news for you is you are catching it now and can start your watering ahead of the coming summer.
Here are two videos about watering your lawn to review: #TunaCanChallenge
Get your watering plan set up and start it now. Be sure your lawn (cool or warm season) is getting at least ½” of water every 3 days or so. If you are in one of those dry states I mentioned above, start off by watering every 2 days and run it like that for a good 3 weeks before getting back to the every 3-4 day pattern.
Get some Hydretain too. This will help you during those hot days. Hydretain is super unique and easy to apply, here's a quick clip on how to use it. Just be sure to water it in immediately following the application. Get it into the root zone.
You can also drive more roots. As you start up the watering plan mentioned above, hit the lawn with Sea-K. You can mix the Hydretain and the Sea-K together like you see me doing here in a pump sprayer or in an Ortho Dial N Spray.
I hope you have a weather app you follow, or a favorite weather person you follow on Twitter - someone like that - so you are aware of what is coming. They will tell you when the first heat spell is on the way. Weather people love to talk about that first blast. It’s key to watch for this obvious sign first!
When that day or days come, get ready to take the watering up a day or so to help the lawn get through it. Don’t spoil it, but for sure, once it starts to check out in a couple spots, get some water on it the next day. If you have been keeping it well irrigated leading up to this day, it will recover quickly.
If you’ve applied Hydretain and Sea-K to drive roots, it may not even notice the heat that much. Your job to watch and take action if needed.
This happened to me at the project lawn last week. It went for 5 days with no water and days over 90. It also got stomped by foot traffic. Here is a short video on what a summer stressed lawn looks like.
That lawn had been properly watered leading up to this point and as you saw, it recovered pretty well. Be sure to subscribe to The Lawn Care Nut YouTube channel if you have not already so you can see how I continue to move it back in the right direction. We may even do the sand drag and level it this coming summer!