Toby Tobin gives chief meteorologist Gary Lezak tips on how to help your lawn survive in the heat

PARKVILLE, Mo. - If the Kansas City area's sweltering heat is stressing you out, it's also putting stress on your lawn, garden, trees and shrubs.    

41 Action News Chief Meteorologist Gary Lezak    spent a recent afternoon with gardening expert Toby Tobin to find out what homeowners need to do to ensure their yard stays green.

When to Water and How Much

Toby recommends every homeowner buy a rain gauge.

An average rain gauge costs $15.00 or less at the hardware store and will help track of how much you are watering.

When temperatures near 100 degrees, Toby said lawns need an inch-and-a-half to two inches of water each week.

"You're either going to have to do one or two things," said Toby. "With blue grass you're going to water every two to three days and with fescue every three to four days. And we're talking three quarters of an inch each time. Watering now you need an inch and a half to two inches."

"The grass will tell you when it needs to be watered. Instead of a nice green color, it will have a purplish tint," added Toby.

Also, Toby said the grass also won't spring back up right away when you walk on it.

Don't Water at Night

Toby said there is a good time and a bad time to turn on your sprinkler or hose.  

"It's an old wives' tale that watering plants in the middle of the day can burn plants. Plants appreciate being watered now and being cooled down. I really like to water plants that are in full sun from 11 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon. "

Toby told Gary, "When you cool that plant down you're making a happy plant. These plants love you. You need to love them back. "

Just be sure to shut the water off by 3 p.m. so the plants and grass can dry out before nightfall.

"A lot of people water at night. Night watering often causes a huge disease problem," said Toby.

Gardeners also need to watch for bugs. Toby said to check the plants for insects late in the evening or at dusk since most bugs hide during the day.

If you find bugs, Toby said to use the least toxic product until you no longer have a problem.

Consider Letting Your Lawn Go Dormant

If a sky-high water bill scares you more than not having a green lawn, Toby told Gary homeowners can cut back on watering and let the lawn go dormant but only if the lawn is well-established.

Toby explained, "You can stop watering an established lawn and let it go dormant. And when it goes dormant, the top turns brown. It is still alive and the roots are still alive. You still need to water a dormant lawn once every three weeks but just a half inch of water. That keeps the crown hydrated and the roots hydrated so when it cools down in late August or September the grass comes back on its own. "

"The grass doesn't want to grow in the heat. It wants to sleep and rest," said Toby.

He added there are two advantages to having a dormant lawn: You don't have to mow, and you won't have disease problems because there's nothing for the disease to feed on.

The only thing you need to watch for is weeds and spray when needed.

If you've put down sod or seeded in the last year or so, you need to water. Toby said if the grass turns brown on lawns that aren't well-established, its dead.

Toby told Gary he lets his back yard go dormant but keeps his front yard green and watered for curb appeal.

Not All Trees and Shrubs Need Constant Watering

Toby said most trees or shrubs that are well-established will survive the intense heat without any watering, but younger trees and shrubs needs more attention.

"If flowers and shrubs were planted in the last two years, they need to be watered every week," said Toby.  

"If they've been in the ground two to five years, they can get by with watering every other week. But if you have fruit trees, they have to be watered every week or two because if its dry the fruit trees start pulling moisture out of the trees and your crop is ruined. "

"The tree doesn't care about the fruit. It cares about itself," said Toby.

Preventing Foundation Problems

The hot, dry weather is not only impacting your lawn. Homeowners need to pay attention to the home's foundation and water will help.

"The problem is the soil is going to be pulling away from the foundation. Then when we get the rain, water is going to run straight down and its going to start causing foundation problems," Toby told Gary.

"So I personally like to water the foundation once a week or at least every other week to keep the soil tight against the foundation. "

Toby recommends watering six inches away from the foundation and not against the foundation itself.

Sale Plants are Worth Buying

As for the plants now marked half-off at the hardware store, Toby said to go ahead and buy them.

"The cool things in the heat of the summer is plants are cheap," said Toby.

"They're discounted but they're still great. You have to water them just like everything else but the plant is better off in the ground than sitting in that pot. "

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