Knowing how to care for your lawn in the heat of summer can go a long way toward saving you money in lawn repair costs. Summer is a very stressful time for lawns. There is less water available, fungus issues are on the rise, and grubs are closer to the surface feeding on roots. Fortunately, there are some things we can do to keep our lawns looking great right into fall. Learn how to achieve peace of mind by applying procedures on a schedule. You’ll also save time and energy by practicing effective weed control, having the right mower and using that mower properly.
Cut the grass
Mow your lawn, but allow the cut grass to be standing three inches tall. let your grass grow a little longer than usual. Cutting your lawn shorter than this invites drought stress, as the lawn loses its ability to shade the roots and retain moisture. Remember to keep mower blades sharp and never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade with each mowing. Use a mulching blade on your mower, as the finely cut particles decompose quickly and will feed the living grass. Your grass does get nutrients through it’s roots, but it also goes through photosynthesis using the rays of the sun absorbed through the blades. Longer blades allow for more absorption. During seasons when there is more rain than usual, keep your grass trimmed a bit shorter. You don’t need the extra dew in the mornings because the grass is getting plenty of moisture as it is. As an added benefit, shorter grass can help you significantly cut down on the insects that will disturb you as well as your lawn.
Aerate Your Lawn
It’s best to aerate before August because if August is a dry month, your lawn will have a hard time retaining moisture. Soil compaction is often the product of heavy foot traffic on your lawn. As a result, air, nutrients, and moisture have difficulty reaching grass roots, causing your lawn to struggle to thrive. By aerating your lawn, you help dew and your watering efforts drain into the ground. If August is a wet month, your lawn may become waterlogged. By aerating it you create a simple draining system to get the water off the top of your lawn and into the roots of your grass and shrubs. And don’t worry about raking up the plugs. Leave them, and in a couple weeks, rain and foot traffic will break them down, allowing them to be re-absorbed back into the lawn.
Watering is another crucial part of lawn care. Deep watering are the best which also means they can be done less frequently. The goal is to encourage roots to grow deep which helps them better fend for themselves. The timing of watering is also important. Early mornings are the coolest part of the day, so make sure to get all your watering done as early as possible. The water will evaporate less than if it was applied midday, also reduces the chance of fungal issues. If you use a sprinkler system, make sure everything is angled very low so water gets on the grass before it starts evaporating. Avoid frequent, shallow irrigation which results in weak roots that can’t tolerate summer heat. Don’t water if the lawn doesn’t need it.
If your lawn turns brown in spots when summer rolls around, you may have a problem with thatch, a thick layer of decomposed plant matter, roots and partially decomposed stems that builds up under the roots. Thatch usually isn’t caused by clippings, which decompose quickly and add healthy nutrients to your lawn. To determine if you have too much thatch, dig a 2-inch deep chunk of grass. A healthy lawn will have about ¾-inch of brown, spongy thatch between the green grass and the surface of the soil. Help reduce thatch in your yard, by giving it a once over with a leaf rake after mowing.
Apply too much to your lawn, or apply it unevenly, and it can result in fertilizer burn. When that happens, the grass will turn yellow, or if it’s particularly severe, crispy brown. The good news is that a lawn that’s been mildly burned with chemical fertilizer can recover. If you suspect that your lawn has been damaged, flush the mineral salts out of the grass with water. Run the sprinklers until water saturates the yard, then continue to water for the next several days to dilute the fertilizer.
During the summer, grubs (larvae of various beetles) come up close to the surface to feed on roots. Most lawns can tolerate a small population but when brown patches appear throughout your yard, you may have a grub infestation that’s causing damage to your lawn’s roots. Some organic solutions include applying milky spore, which can be purchased in a powdered form at your local home or garden center. It creates a bacterial condition known as “milky disease,” which is harmless to your lawn, but deadly to grubs. Of course, there are several pesticides to consider as well.
Keep your grass at its very best by addressing and dealing with the factors that can threaten the health of your lawn. Summer is when your lawn will really shine and will be the centerpiece for your BBQ’s and gardens.