Are Your Lawns and Gardens Ready for Connecticut's Hotter Summers?

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As we approach the end of October, most of us start thinking more about cleaning up fallen leaves than planting and gardening.

But experts say this is the prime time to think spring when it comes to your lawn and garden.

Nancy Dubrule, the founder of Natureworks Garden Center in Northford, said "most people think spring only, and what you end up doing if you shop in the spring only is you buy what's in bloom. And guess what? Everything blooms for three to four weeks and by July your garden is green, unless you have annuals."

The organic gardening specialist says a lot of nurseries don't stock many plants in the fall, which encourages people to associate planting with spring. She encourages all of us to shift our focus to fall, and from above ground to below.

“They don't give you that excitement of watching the plant tops grow, but the roots grow" the garden designer said. "But the roots grow, and then in the spring, you're like 'I can't believe I planted that. It's just amazing!"

This time of year the soil is still warm, the air is cool, rain is more consistent, and hot, dry July is eight months away instead of eight weeks away.

Speaking of hot, dry July, Connecticut's summers are getting hotter.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the average temperature in Connecticut since 1970 has increased nearly three degrees.

If you feel like it's getting harder to keep your lawn green during the growing season, it's not your imagination.

Turf grass scientist Chris Brown says one of the ways his company, Teed & Brown, is helping its customers combat that is planting grass seed that decades ago most people wouldn't expect here in Connecticut.

“When I first started one of the most common types of grasses that we use is called perennial ryegrass. It's still a very nice type of grass. But it's not great in the summer heat”

Brown has a masters degree in Turf Grass Science from Penn State University and said "over time, that (perennial ryegrass) got less and less usable in this area.”

Brown suggests overseeding in the fall with tall fescue.

“That's a grass that traditionally has been used in states more in the area of Virginia, Maryland, Washington, DC, that can handle summer heat better than the grasses up here. And with our summers getting hotter every year, we're shifting our customers and our seeding programs over to the turf type tall fescue now.”

Brown says it will take some time and patience, but after a few years your grass will be greener on the other side.

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