Spring and summer are full of a schedule of frequent mowing and weeding. Cutting grass is a weekly, or more frequently, chore, especially when your neighbors keep a pristine yard. As the summer stretches to an end, you probably are secretly wondering when does grass stop growing. Everyone reaches a point when they are ready to put the lawn mower back into the shed and call it quits for the year.
There are a few factors to consider. It is easy to mistake dormant grass and dead grass; it is important to understand the difference. Depending on where you live, air and soil temperature helps to determine when the grass stops growing. Let’s take a look at the factors you need to understand.
Dormancy Vs. Dead Grass
Dead grass and dormant grass can look very similar. It is easy to wonder whether the grass has stopped growing for the year, heading into its cool weather dormancy, or if it is dying. When your grass is used to cooler weather, your grass may go dormant during hot weather.
It can hard to determine when your grass is dead during the summer months. The best method is to continue to water it as you normally would. Before this warmer weather, laying irrigation could prevent it from happening. During the winter months, it is even harder to determine if your grass is dormant or dead. Unfortunately, you may have to wait until springtime to see if it comes out of dormancy.
Dormant grasses often look like dead grass. You will find brown or yellow patches throughout your lawn. Chances are you might be planning how to grow more grass and when to lay down grass seed. Step away from the bag! Even though dormancy looks like death, dormant grass needs some water to stay alive. If you live in an area with a rainy fall or a snowy winter, the grass will stay moist throughout the dormancy. However, if you live in an area with frequent drought or hot periods of time, you need to keep watering the grass until the temperature cools down enough to determine if it is alive.
Purpose For Dormancy
Depending on where you live, your grass will go dormant for a variety of reasons. If you live in a cooler region, your grass has adapted to those temperatures. During long, hot periods of time, you will notice that your grass stops growing because there isn’t enough water to keep it actively growing.
People who have warm season grass will notice the opposite. This type of grass goes dormant during cold weather, dying back naturally. In either circumstance, it isn’t a concern. The grasses’ crowns stay alive.
If you notice dormancy during droughts, an increase in watering may revive the grass totally, pulling it out of dormancy. When watering doesn’t work, don’t fret! Dormancy is natural for many plants, including grass, and it is designed to help protect the grass. It will more than likely grow back when the weather returns to its normal state.
Types Of Grass
There are different types of grass, even though many people just assume it is all one type. They all do look similar at a glance. The type of grass determines whether grass stops growing in summer, winter or both. Cool season species include Kentucky Bluegrass, Ryegrasses, and Fescues. These grasses grow throughout the winter in a Mediterranean-like climate. However, it will go into dormancy during the hot summer heat. You can expect it to continue to grow again in October or November.
On the opposite side, warm season grasses include options such as St. Augustine, Bermuda Grass, Buffalo Grass, Kikuyu, and Zoysia. These grasses love the hot, summer heat. If you make sure they have enough water throughout the summer, they will continue to grow. However, once the soil temperature falls to 55 degrees F, dormancy sets in quickly. Dormancy can last from September or October until March or April.
Air temperature is a major factor used to determine when the grass stops growing. Also, it is important to remember dormancy is tied to the temperature of the soil. In general, grass will stop growing when the air temperature is 40 degrees F and below. It also will go dormant when the temperature is consistently over 90 degrees. However, this all depends on what type of grass grows around your property.
The roots of cool-season grass, typically find in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 9, start to grow and absorb nutrients when the ground temperature is 55 to 65 degrees F. As the temperature increases, grass enters into an active growth period, especially as the temperatures consistently reach 75 degrees.
Warm season grasses, such as Bermuda grass, grows in USDA hardiness zones 7 through 10. For these grasses to grow, soil temperatures need to reach 70 degrees F for normal growth. Temperatures can range from 60 at night up, and the grass will still grow actively. Daytime temperatures reach 85 degrees F during this period, creating a good mixture of temperatures for the grass.
Mowing grass is a sign that summer is on the way. While it is a chore most homeowners don’t mind for long, the time spent taking care of the lawn starts to drive you nuts after a few months. For those who are living in the northern states, you have to wait for the air temperatures to drop below 40 degrees F on a frequent basis. The soil temperature needs to stay consistently around 40 degrees at night to make it reach this temperature.
For those who live in a warmer climate, such as USDA hardiness zones 7 to 10, your grass won’t typically stop growing until the temperatures are consistently high. When it stays above 90 degrees and has little rain, you can expect your grass to go into dormancy. If you don’t want to lose your entire lawn, remember to water your grass otherwise you’ll regret the decision!