The Summer season is all about enjoying the warm weather and outdoor activities that keep us entertained for hours and hours. Whether it’s an backyard barbecue or a front yard game of two-hand-touch, you’re going to want that beautiful lawn you worked so hard in the Spring to achieve to remain thick, lush, and green.
While the Summer sun means good times and fun for us, the heat can take a toll on turf, especially if your front yard is the end zone for the neighborhood kids’ games of two-hand-touch. If you mow too low, water too much or too little, or ignore early signs of pests, your grass could quickly become lackluster or even completely die in small or large patches. Below are some tips and tricks that can help any homeowner in maintaining their healthy lawn throughout the hot summer.
Photo: Flickr/ Benjamin Chun
1. Mow at the Proper Height
Have you ever mowed and thought that you’d just cut it extra short this time to save you from having to mow the next week? Well, turns out that grass doesn’t actually work that way, if you want a healthy lawn that is. Make certain your lawn mower blades are sharpened and will make a clean cut of about 2.5” to 3” for warm season grasses and 3” to 4” for cool season grasses. If your blades aren’t sharpened when you mow, the tips of the grass will begin to brown and fray – sort of like split ends in hair. Tall blades of grass are able to obtain more light during peak sun hours and use this energy to produce and provide more nutrients to the roots and surrounding soil. Taller blades will also provide shade that allows for the soil surrounding each blade of grass to maintain moisture throughout the dry heat of most summer days. It’s best to time mows so you’re never removing more than ⅓ of the blade surface at a time.
Photo: Flickr/ Vincent Horn
2. Water Control
It’s imperative that lawns receive at least 1” of rainfall (water) per week, and obviously a bit more when the heat is severe. Use a rain gauge or straight-sided can to keep track of the amount of water received from rainfall and irrigation – a can of tuna usually does the trick. Water deeply and less frequently to encourage drought-tolerant roots. Water early in the morning to reduce evaporation and fungal growth. Also, note that water droplets act like a magnifying glass when the sun’s rays are pounding down, so you can end up causing some serious damage if you water during the peak heat. Either water your lawn regularly and deeply, or don’t water your lawn at all and don’t let your lawn become brown and dormant then try to “water it back to life.” If your lawn goes dormant in summer, it should stay that way until fall – don’t worry, it should recover once the weather changes.
Photo: Flickr/ Rubbermaid Products
3. Recycle Grass Clippings
The waste your mower produces shouldn’t be considered waste at all. Instead, the clippings should be redistributed across the lawn. If you’re mowing grass at the right height, you can let clippings scatter across the lawn. This practice is called grasscycling and saves you time, money, and fertilizer – not to mention that it’s insanely nutritious for your lawn. There are some mowers that don’t bag clippings but rather just cut and spread the shredded grass back into the turf. Which shouldn’t create that dreaded layer of thatch in the summer time if you’re doing it right and not cutting too much of the blade away while mowing. These clippings will be able to supply the soil with an added supply of nutrients as well as additional shade to further along the growth of a healthy lawn.
Photo: Flickr/ Kamil Porembiński
Fertilization should really be given it’s own post due to how grey best practices are, however a couple good points should fit in with this post.
Avoid fertilizing warm-season grass toward the end of fall. (Once summer hits it’s pretty easy to over fertilize your lawn, which can end up scalding it.) This encourages lawn growth into the colder seasons when the lawn should not be growing. Instead, fertilize in the early spring and throughout the spring season while the weather is warming up and plants begin to flourish. Fertilize again in the middle of summer. Cool-season grass requires fertilization at the onset of spring, or as soon as the grass recovers from winter dormancy. Fertilize again in the early fall after heat waves and droughts have subsided for the year.
Those are the top 4 tips that I can think of for maintaining your lawn’s health throughout the summer.
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