What is lawn dormancy?
Often times grass looks like its dead or dying at different times of year but in actual fact it is going dormant. Lawn dormancy happens when grass is lacking the essential conditions necessary for active growth so it compensates by conserving energy instead. Due to this, the grass starts to turn brown and it stops growing and thus gives off the appearance of dying or thinning out. In actual fact, the grass is just shutting down temporarily to sustain its survival. Cool season grasses (otherwise known as northern grasses) such as Kentucky bluegrass, perennial rye grass or fescue typically go dormant during the hot and dry conditions of summer. This is why many really thick and green lawns in the spring can suddenly turn brown in the early summertime. The lawn is not dying, it is just reacting to a change from the cool, moist conditions of spring to the hot, dry conditions of summer.
Can lawn dormancy be prevented?
For those who like to maintain a thick, healthy, and dark green looking lawn all season long, lawn dormancy can be prevented. The way to prevent dormancy is to maintain 2 deep watering’s per week every single week going into and during summer. To ensure deep watering, we suggest watering for 1 hour each time in all ears of the lawn. If your lawn is already dormant the way to pull it out of dormancy is to water a little extra in the beginning until the lawn greens up (perhaps 3 times per week for 1 hour).
Is dormancy bad for the grass?
For those who do not have the time to water (or wish to follow a watering budget) letting the lawn go dormant is not a bad thing so long as you continue to fertilize the lawn. When the lawn is dormant it is in a survival mode. When the hot dry conditions gradually turn to cool moist conditions (typically in the fall) the lawn will undergo a full recovery. The key, of course, is to maintain a consistent fertility program to ensure the lawn has the essential nutrients it needs to recover.
Actively Growing Grass