P&PDL Picture of the Week for
July 25, 2005

Streaking across the Lawn???

Glenn Hardebeck, Turfgrass Research Agronomist, Department of Agronomy, Purdue University

This time of year seemingly small things can combine with the stress of a hot dry summer to create visible problems. Even something as common as mowing the lawn can create problems under certain conditions. Mowing across patches of turf that are under drought stress (especially during hot, sunny days) can destroy the integrity of the leaves to the point that even with irrigation, the leaves will not green-up. New leaves must regrow from the crown of the plant taking 4 weeks or more. Following are some points to consider during the summer:

  • Mow only as the growth of the turf requires (Cut about 1/3 off at a time).

  • Avoid mowing during the heat of the day when the lawn is under the greatest amount of drought and heat stress.

  • Keep the blade(s) sharp, sharp, sharp. Dull blades give a ragged cut that increases the water loss from the leaves.

  • On an unirrigated lawn, consider holding off mowing (as growth allows) until Mother Nature provides some irrigation. This can help your lawn retain more color longer into the summer.

  • If mowing is necessary due to weeds such as buckhorn plantain but the turf has not grown significantly, consider raising the mower height so that the weeds are cut without cutting into the turf. This can reduce the amount of water lost from the otherwise freshly cut turf leaves.

Click on image to enlarge

Lawns are streaked easily during drought requiring several weeks of good growing conditions to recover.

Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab Purdue Cooperative Extension Service