Diagnosing Heat Stress on Your Louisville Lawn

Have you ever been stuck somewhere, say a sporting event or festival, in the middle of a hot summer day, extremely thirsty, but the line for the concession stand goes on forever? Or perhaps you have been out for a jog in the hot summer sun only to run out of water. This is how your lawn feels throughout the summer during those long-drawn-out days of sunshine, no rain, and excessive heat—tired, drained, and dehydrated.

It’s summer here in Lousiville, and that means your lawn is probably stressed. It’s a normal occurrence caused by consistent temperatures above 90 with no moisture, such as we often experience in July. But if your lawn is already weak or suffering from other ailments, it could cause death or mass destruction.

Learn more about what heat and drought stress are, what causes them, the signs to look for, and what you can do to help ensure your lawn sustains its health and vibrancy.

What Is Drought Stress?

footprints in grass


Drought stress is simply that. It is your grass’s reaction to not receiving enough water. Think of how you felt while waiting in line for that bottled water purchase or another time when you were parched. During July and August, your lawn needs about one to two inches of water per week. If it doesn’t receive this, it could turn brown and become more vulnerable to disease and pest infestations.

What Is Heat Stress?

Here in Kentucky, we typically design our lawns with cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescue, and perennial ryegrass. Repeated temperatures ab

ove 90 degrees cause changes in the plant’s protein structure. If this occurs over an extended period of time, a process called denaturation occurs. Denaturation destroys your turf’s protein structure. Once denaturation in the leaf tissue of the grass occurs, it is irreversible, and your grass dies. This process is referred to as heat stress, and it is your grass’s response to repeated high temperatures.

How Do You Know if Your Louisville Lawn Is Experiencing Drought or Heat Stress?

Because condition that only happens during hot, dry weather, a heatwave is your first indication that your grass could be suffering. Other signs and symptoms to look for include:

  • Patches of brown grass appear wilting and dying.
  • Curling grass blades. As each blade strains to receive water and nutrients from your roots, they will start to curl up or wilt as they begin to die.
  • There are gaps between your sidewalk and the grass.
  • Weeds start popping up more frequently than in the past. You may think that heat and drought would kill off all the weeds as well. However, they are survivors and start to steal nutrients from your grass to stay alive.
  • Footprints left behind in your grass when walked upon.

What Can You Do to Help Prevent Drought and Heat Stress?

Raise Your Lawn Mower
During this time of outstretched heat, allowing your grass to grow a little longer will help it retain water for a longer time. Taller grass also provides more shade for the soil below it, protecting it and making it more drought resistant. Allowing your grass to grow just a little longer will also thicken it up and help prevent weeds from growing. Regardless of how long or short you cut your grass, never cut more than one-third off the top in any one setting. This is known as the one-third rule. Cutting more than 1/3 of the leaf tissue during a mowing operation may cause scalping injury and impact turf vigor, especially during stressful times of the season.

Irrigate Properly
It’s more essential now than any other time of the year to keep your grass properly hydrated. When grass suffers from heat stress, it makes it vulnerable and opens the door for pests and diseases to invade. The best way to properly irrigate is by spraying your lawn for at least 20 minutes every other night. Space out the times when you irrigate so that your grass has time to soak up the moisture and travel to your roots. The more water that reaches your roots, the stronger they will become. And stronger roots mean stronger turf.

Proper Fertilizationsprinkler head watering a lawn
The best way to protect your Louisville grass from drought and heat stress is to start with a strong foundation. Ensuring your roots are durable and your grass is healthy, to begin with, will ensure that your turf can withstand the summer’s heat. It will also have a much better chance of resisting disease and pest infestations.

How do you do this? Invest in a lawn care program that includes fertilization. Adequate fertilization applied at the appropriate times will provide your grass with the micronutrients needed to thrive.

Put yourself in this scenario again. Do you take a multivitamin? Occasionally, use Airborne, Emergen-C, or another type of supplement? Your grass is a living thing, and like all living things, it needs food to survive. The added nourishment it receives with fertilization will help boost its immune system and give it the boost it needs to overcome temporary climate stressors.

Protect Your Lawn From Drought and Heat Stress With a Proper Lawn Care Program

Turf Pro Plus Outdoor Solutions offers a 7-Step Application Lawn Care Program to create a more durable, green, healthy, insect-free lawn. Our program starts in the early spring and utilizes a blend of slow-release fertilizers. We then continue with a once-a-month application of added nutrients, weed control, and insect control as needed. The fertilizer used in our lawn care program will help give your lawn the boost it needs to survive the heat and drought of the summer and prevent and protect it from annoying weeds and bothersome bugs.

Contact us to learn more about our highly effective lawn care program today, as well as the other lawn care services we provide. Check out our websitecontact us online or give us a call at 502-991-7600.

For more tips and ideas, read our other blog articles and follow our blog. Then like us on Facebook and Instagram to get to know us better. We are excited to work with you.


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