Seed with heat in mind

May 17, 1992

A lawn does for the landscape what human skin does for the body -- provides shape, color and texture. But just like skin, lawns can suffer and burn from too much sun.

How can you help your lawn beat the heat this summer? Start by planting grass seed specifically suited for sunny conditions. Then, mow and water wisely throughout the growing season.

The best grass to plant for lawns in full sun is turf-type tall fescue. Its improved heat, drought and wear tolerance makes it the natural choice for many drier areas of the country.

In addition, several new turf-type tall fescue varieties require minimal fertilizer and less water, and have fewer disease or insect problems. One of the best, Summer Stress, which is actually a turf-type tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass mixture, produces a dense, attractive turf that thrives in sun or shade.

"Over the years, we've seen a need for seed formulas that perform well in heat and drought with little maintenance," said Dr. Richard Hurley, vice president and director of research and agronomy at Lofts Seed Inc. Summer Stress is one of four environmentally friendly grass seed and wildflower mixtures sold under the company's newly introduced EcoSystems line.

But, don't forget, even with the right grass seed, a lawn in direct sunlight still requires some tender loving care in order to survive the dog days of summer.

Whether newly seeded or well-established, every lawn needs water, especially if exposed to constant sun. That task can be tricky if you live in an area with imposed watering restrictions. Even so, there are several ways you can maximize watering efficiency.

For example, water the lawn in the early morning, between sunrise and 11 a.m., when the sun's rays are not yet at full strength. This will reduce the likelihood of water being lost to evaporation. Also, try using an oscillating or impulse-type sprinkler for maximum coverage and water conservation.

Though grass growth slows dramatically in excessive heat, it is still necessary to cut the lawn periodically to keep it neat and healthy.

For best results, never cut more than one-third of the grass height or more than 1 inch of top growth at any one clipping.

And remember to keep the mower blades sharp. Dull blades damage tender grass plants, leaving ugly dead tips which eventually turn brown.

For more information on how to make the grass grow greener on your side of the fence, send a stamped, self-addressed #10 envelope to: Lofts Booklet, P.O. Box 146, Bound Brook, N.J. 08805.

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