Ask the gardener is a column in which local readers send in questions about your garden, lawn, trees and more.
With ten days of record-breaking heat and the only rain coming in bursts of spot thunderstorms, a lot of lawns are looking a bit scorched.
Patch turned to garden expert Jeanne Melton of World Outdoor Emporium off Highway 61 just north of Wentzville with some questions about lawns and drought.
Is it too late for grass that's turned dry and brown?
It depends why it's brown. If it's fungus, it needs to be treated. If it's just because of the drought, it needs to be watered.
What suggestions would you have for people who don't water their lawns because they can't afford a big water bill?
Plant materials are costly. So is the back-breaking labor or the cost of re-seeding or replanting. You have to think about protecting your investment. The more your grass is stressed, the more susceptible it is to disease and insects, and the same for your trees and shrubs.
Are there certain kinds of grass that are more drought-resistant?
In Missouri, fescue is a good choice. It's more tolerant and does better in drought conditions. Blue grass will go dormant. Another choice is zoysia, but you have to like zoysia—it's a little different how it greens up in the spring, and it can creep into flower gardens.
Any other hints for lawns during drought conditions?
Don't mow too short! Set the level higher. Those longer blades of grass will help shade the ground and keep it cooler. If you mow so short that the ground is exposed, it will heat up and dry out much faster.