The high temperatures can be very stressful on our lawns in Cincinnati and Dayton. Lawn stress around driveways and walks is very common and can kill grass. Why does this happen? Most times it is because the soil is poor in those areas. Along the edges the soil is infested with rocks, concrete, debris, and other things impeding the roots from diving deep. Shallow roots mean the grass will stress out much quicker than the grass in the middle of your lawn that has deep roots. Another reason is this grass is surrounded by large baking pans (concrete). The concrete is much hotter than the soil and when your curb lane “the devil strip” between the road and sidewalk is getting pounded by heat from two directions it stresses out much quicker than the main portion of your lawn. Weeds tend to invade these areas of stress more too.
So what can you do?
1) Improve the soil- Add high quality topsoil or compost to the existing soil by topdressing after an aeration or just rototil the new soil/compost into the existing. Make sure to remove any rocks or large objects that could stop the roots of the grass from diving deep.
2) Core Aerate- Most times these areas are very compact. Core Aerating in the Spring or Fall will relieve the compaction, promote root growth, and improve drainage. It is always a good idea to core aerate every year in Cincinnati and Dayton because of our high clay soils.
3) Plant more drought tolerant grass- The type of grass I would suggest would be turf type tall fescue. It handles the stresses of the Summer much better than rye and bluegrass. Wait until Sept/Early Oct for the best results. Work the soil, put down the seed evenly, and then make sure to keep the soil moist for 2-3 weeks until all the grass has germinated. A good blend we like to use is sold at Green Velvet Sod Farm called Hybrid Power (with a little blue in it) or Trophy XRE (100% tall fescue).
Remember to seed this Fall and do not wait until the Spring. The results of Fall Seedings are much better. There is a reason we do 90% of our seedings in the Fall in Cincinnati and Dayton.