Summer Lawn Care Made Easy
Posted in Lawn and Landscape on June 30, 2014
You’ve spent a lot of time, effort and money on the perfect lawn. Now, it’s the peak time to enjoy all that hard word. However, the care and maintenance phase isn’t over; if you want to keep your lawn lush and green, read on for our tips on summer lawn care.
- Just a little off the top – Mowing at the right height. Taller grass is the way to mow in the summertime; it shades the soil, reducing evaporation, encouraging deeper roots and preventing weeds. You should never remove more than one-third of the leaf surface in any one mowing.
- Proper watering. Lawns need deep, but infrequent, watering. Your local water authority, Co-op Extension Office or local Hydro-Scape branch can give you advice on the best schedule.
- Do the Doo – Clean up after Fido. Doggie waste is a big cause of dead spots in your lawn. Picking up solid waste helps keep down doggie damage. If Fido’s favorite “spot” is dying due to urination, flush it heavily with water. This dilutes Fido’s deposit and saves your lawn. Mulch or pebble an area and teach Fido that it’s his new potty zone.
- Look sharp! Keep your mower blade in peak condition. Dull blades tear grass, leaving brown, ragged edges that allow disease to enter the leaf just as a cut in our skin allows disease to infect us. A truly sharp blade should last for 10 hours of mowing, after which it needs sharpening. Keeping an extra sharp blade on-hand prevents delays in mowing while the dull blade gets sharpened.
- Warm-season grass feeding. If your lawn is a warm-season variety, it does a lot of growing during the summer months. As such, it needs more nutrients. Call Hydro-Scape for the best fertilizer schedule for your area. BEST Turf Grass Schedule.
- Litter – Pick it up! Many summer enjoyments involve toys, furniture, tools or water games. While these are great, leaving them on your lawn after use can harm – or even kill – your lawn. The best practice is to put it all away when you’re done using it.
- Weed Me! Keep on top of any weed problems you have during the growing season. If you have cool-season weeds, especially dandelions or perennial types, apply weed control in the late summer or early fall. If you’re going to seed or overseed your lawn, do not apply a pre-emergent herbicide in the fall.
Hot, hot summer days aren’t stressful only for you. Your lawn can get stressed out during the peak of the heat, too. This is the perfect time for insects to feed, drought stress to occur, soil to be compacted from lawn use, and other stresses, all resulting in a brown, dingy lawn. This stressed-out state also makes it easier for weeds and insects to invade. All is not lost, though! Here are some tips on identifying summer lawn stress.
Higher temperatures and lack of water causes grass to wilt, turn brown or die. If you can see footprints in your lawn after it’s been walked on, your lawn may be stressed. Most grasses turn darker. Once you’ve identified patches you suspect of drought stress, these tests can confirm it:
- Pull on the brown grass. If it’s firmly rooted and doesn’t pull out from the soil easily, it’s drought stress.
- Using a screwdriver, test green and brown spots. If the screwdriver penetrates the green spots easily, but not the brown, the soil is too dry. If you have rocky soil, you’ll need to dig a small hole to check for moisture.
- Look at the big picture. Drought stress causes random, rough patches of brown. Also, areas near sprinklers may be green, while those farther away are brown. Shady spots tend to stay green, but areas in full sun may suffer drought. Lower spots that retain more water may stay green while higher areas go brown.
Cool- and warm-season grasses both have a defense mechanism again hot, dry conditions; this is dormancy. Growth slows and grass turns brown. It’s not dead, but dormant. If you water it, you’ll need to continue watering it for the rest of the summer. Failing to do so opens your lawn up to more stresses because food reserves for the root system are depleted when the grass leaves dormancy.
Completely dormant grass can take as much as three to four weeks to turn green again, depending on your region. Overwatering won’t speed up the process. Reseeding might be needed, especially if you have a cool-season lawn.
It’s vitally important that you not let newly-planted lawns go dormant. They don’t have a well-enough developed root system to survive dormancy without significant injury.
Insect infestation can also cause lawns to go brown during the summer. Your local Co-op Extension Office can fill you in on which critters invade certain grass types in your area, as well as how to get rid of the infestation. However, the common culprits are cranberry girdler, chinch bugs, sod webworms, army worms and white grubs.
Pull on the brown grass; if it comes up with few or no roots, you’ve likely got white grubs. Other insects are fond of munching on grass blades, making your lawn look as though you mowed it too short. Stop by your local Hydro-Scape for solutions in controlling insects in your lawn or landscape.
While we humans get sicker in the winter, summer is the time for lawn diseases. Stressed out lawns are more likely to succumb to disease-causing organisms. Mowing with a dull blade leaves torn, jagged edges – the perfect opening for disease. Watering only after dark also increases the chance of diseased lawns. It’s best to water in the early morning. Sometimes though, the perfect humid conditions, mixed with watering cause fungus that’s hard to avoid. A lawn fungicide such as Spectracide® Immunox® works well.
If you’ve got lawn issues, pests or just aren’t sure how to keep your lawn green and healthy; visit Hydro-Scape and our knowledgeable associates will be happy to help you find solutions.