Heat, not lack of rain, killing grass, say landscapers

by: Katie Virtue Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - New drought numbers released this week put parts of Gaston, Mecklenburg and Cleveland counties in a moderate drought because those areas have had only half the amount of rainfall usually seen in June.

Many homeowners want to blame the dry conditions for their dead grass, but more than anything else, the high temperatures are the biggest reasons lawns are looking brown and damaged.

Landscapers said the problem is not an easy one to solve.

Landscaper Phil Haynes said the grass in many yards across the Charlotte area is trying to save itself from the heat. Temperatures in the area have topped 95 degrees nearly every day for the past week.

“This area is going to go dormant because it’s really baking from 9:30 a.m. until probably 4 p.m.,” Haynes said.

Under direct sunlight, the grass can reach temperatures up to 143 degrees. But under the shade of a tree, the temperatures only reach 98 degrees.

Warm-seasonal grass species like Zosia and Bermuda grasses love the bright summer sun, but cool-seasonal grasses like Fescue will go brown and dormant to conserve all its energy in the roots.

The difference is one that homeowner Lisa Sippe notices right away.

“We actually just cut four trees down, which has made a huge difference as far as the heat. It’s killing the grass, which we can see,” Sippe said.

Lots of water is the only way to bring back some of the green. Landscapers said people need to spread an inch of water over the lawn twice a week before sunrise.

“Unless you chemically alter the plant, you’re never going to have a perfectly rich, green lawn in the summer. It’s not the way Mother Nature wanted it to be,” Haynes said.

So far, there are no mandatory water restrictions in the Carolinas, but that could change as the summer heat continues.