What causes lawn scorch?

Lawns are most likely to suffer from scorch in the summer months when a variety of stress factors come together and overwhelm the lawn. Here are some scorching conditions to look out for and how to avoid them.

Dry weather

Dry weather is the reason that most lawns go brown in the summer. Without water the grass cannot photosynthesise and produce energy so it goes into a dormant state until conditions are more suited. The leaves go brown and look dry, in some cases they will die, but it’s more than likely that the plant will survive and bounce back in the autumn.

You can keep the lawn as green as possible by getting it in the best possible condition as summer approaches. Apply a low-scorch spring/summer treatment such as SmartLawn DroughtSafe in May before conditions get too bad. Then follow up with a liquid treatment of SmartLawn Seaweed Extract or SmartLawn ONYX Liquid in June. If no rain is predicted for the week, ensure that it will be given at least 1 inch (approx. 25 mm) of water.

Photo provided by Simon Dexter, Turf Professional

Extreme heat

UK lawn species are not used to the extreme heat that we seem to be getting more and more often in the summer. Warm climate species (e.g. Bermuda grass or St Augustine grass) would tolerate the conditions better and stay greener for longer in summer but do not have any tolerance for frost or snow.

Lawns that are in the shade for part of the day will fare better with extreme heat conditions so you may find that some of the lawn does not suffer as badly. Raise the height of the mower blades from May onward, this will provide more cover for the plant roots but you will still see some browning of the lawn.

Photo provided by Dave Jackson of Greener Gardens

Incorrect fertiliser

Applying a concentrated nutrient or moss-blackening fertiliser in the summer can cause stress to the lawn and cause it to go brown. The only safe treatments for use in hot, dry weather are low-scorch ones such as SmartLawn DroughtSafe or SmartLawn ONYX Liquid. Check with your fertiliser supplier if you are unsure.

Too much fertiliser

Too much of any fertiliser (even low-scorch ones) will burn the lawn if applied too heavily. You may have experience of this if you have ever accidentally spilt some fertiliser on a lawn!

Monitor your application rates carefully to make sure you are applying at the correct rate. If you have made a mistake, and applied too much, make sure the area receives at least 1 inch of water within 24 hours to prevent burning.

Pet urine

Pet urine is very concentrated and tends to burn lawns easily as seen in the photo below. Here are a few ideas to give your customer to help minimise the effect of the urine.

  • Take the animal somewhere else when it’s urine is likely to be most concentrated (e.g. first thing in the morning)
  • Treat the area immediately after urination with at least 5 litres of water to dilute the urine
  • Treat the pet’s water source with a neutraliser such as Dog RocksTM
Photo taken by J Marshall of Supalawns

In most cases, a scorched lawn will bounce back eventually. Depending on how bad the scorch is you might be able to speed up recovery with just a biostimulant treatment. If it’s very bad then you may need to scarify when conditions are right and overseed the lawn.

If you have a lawn that needs help, do get in touch! GreenBest sales staff can advise the best course of action and suitable treatments to get the lawn looking green and healthy again. You can email sales@greenbest.co.uk or call 01963 364788 to talk to us.

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