The Life of Cool Season Grass in the Hot Summer of Northern Virginia

Over this past weekend while the temperatures were hitting 100 degrees I thought about how growing cool season turf in a hot climate can be a huge challenge.  I thought to myself if a grass plant could talk what would it say and how would they feel.  Bluegrass and tall fescue, which are both considered cool season turf would be complaining about the heat and humidity; while zoysia grass, a warm season grass, would be happy.  The primary turf in Northern Virginia lawns is cool season turf.  Cool season turf is chosen because it has the longest growing season; however, for two or three months out of the year it struggles.  These months, you would prefer zoysia grass, a warm season turf, because of its low maintenance and beauty during the heat of the summer.  Zoysia grass has many benefits but most homeowners find its short growing season undesirable as it is brown almost 6 months of the year.  Cool-season grasses are originally from cool temperate regions of Europe.  High summer heat can spell trouble for cool-season lawn grasses which are best suited for air temperatures between 60-75°F.   Just like people, plants have a hard time cooling when the temperature and humidity are high.  Additionally, when these grass plants are under stress, fungus and weeds become a major issue as they take advantage of the opportunity to spread.  Fungal infection enters the plants because the hot humid weather is ideal for them to thrive and destroy the grass plant.  Weak plants and a thinner stand of turf allow weeds to germinate.  Cool season turf is constantly battling with nature and weather during the summer.   I reminded my plants that they just need to hold on for about 40 more days, until the weather begins to turn more favorable as autumn approaches.    

Fungi are natural in nature and there are beneficial fungi as well as fungi that are detrimental to plants.   Fungi are both air-borne and soil-borne and can spread quickly throughout the lawn.  For more information please read our other blogs and educational materials which contain more details about lawn fungus, proper watering techniques and cutting of turf.  We are here to answer any questions.

Healthy Lawn in the Summer