Lawns, trees suffer as heat wave continues in central Oklahoma

Many central Oklahoma homeowners will have to give up on saving their green lawns as the heat wave and drought continue.
By BRYAN DEAN bdean@opubco.com Modified: July 31, 2012 at 8:23 pm •  Published: July 31, 2012
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Homeowners battling to save their green lawns as Oklahoma endures a second straight summer of extreme heat and drought might as well wave the white flag, according to Oklahoma County's resident urban agriculture expert.

The temperature hit a record 108 degrees Tuesday in Oklahoma City, and highs are forecast near 110 degrees the rest of the week. That kind of heat is tough on lawns, trees and gardens, said Ray Ridlen, agriculture educator at the Oklahoma County Extension Service.

Ridlen said last summer's historic heat wave taught him there is no winning lawn strategy when temperatures soar over 100 degrees for an extended period, with a drought to match.

“I watered and watered,” Ridlen said. “I played that game for months, but the temperatures got so high it just died. I spent all that money and ended up with a dead lawn.”

Ridlen said those who refuse to give up the fight should water deeply and infrequently, encouraging the grass to develop a healthy root system.

“They need to use their water wisely,” he said. “In these types of conditions, our turf irrigation systems aren't the most efficient use of water. You are essentially spoon feeding water to your lawn, which keeps the roots from developing.”

Ridlen said before he gave up on his lawn, he would soak one area with a slow trickle of water for most of the day, and then move the hose to another area overnight.

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