Oh, that summer heat. With these record high temperatures, we know how important it is to protect our skin from the sun – your lawn needs extra TLC to prevent damage, too! How can you keep your lawn healthy and verdant without wasting water or overusing chemicals? These Do’s and Don’t’s will have you covered:
Do: water according to the stage of your lawn.
- if you have brand new seed or new sod, you must water more frequently – starting at 3 times a day every day, then spreading out watering as it’s ready
- if you have a young lawn (1-3 years): you need deeper watering to facilitate root growth
- if you have an established lawn (3 years or more): water frequently in short spouts (no longer than 10 minutes) – do not deep water.
Note: a common conception of short and frequent watering is that your lawn is more susceptible to fungal growth – one fungicide treatment for the season will keep this from happening.
Don’t: overestimate the amount of rain your grass gets during a storm.
Do: track the rain and adjust watering accordingly
Are there sporadic thunderstorms and rainstorms while you sleep, while you’re at work, or while you’re otherwise away from your home? How can you know if the rainfall was enough to skip your daily watering, or the storm was all bark and no bite – just thunder and little rain? You can either invest in a rain gauge – manual or digital – or go old school and simply put a bucket out anywhere in your yard with a stone/heavy brick in to make sure that it doesn’t overturn in wind.
After rainfall (or when you wake up and get the paper in the morning, or return home from work), if see that the bucket is empty, you know you need to water the lawn pas usual; if the bucket is over ½” full, skip the next watering – if it’s over 3”, it may be a good idea to skip 1-2 full days.
Don’t: avoid fertilizer if your lawn actually needs it.
Do: switch to organic or use a whole-health fertilizer that contains more than just nitrogen.
You’ve likely heard of the rule don’t fertilize in the summer. This thanks to the fear of potential nitrogen burn, which will happen if you’re going to the big box store and buying the old school high nitrogen content fertilizer; you’ll fertilize, then because it’s summer, perhaps experience a few days of heavy rain, then a drought will come, leading to a nitrogen burn.
But this isn’t a catch-all rule; if your lawn is need of nutrients, you can fertilize it – with the right fertilizer. In fact, if you’re not already organic, summer is the best time to switch to organic fertilizer, because it’s not as strong. You can also opt for a whole-health fertilizer that contains way more nutrients than just nitrogen, so your lawn experiences a healthy dose of everything it needs. What to look for in a whole-health fertilizer? Nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, iron, humic acid, micros, and more – you want nitrogen to be 1 of many ingredients, not a main ingredient.
So, think of the rule instead, as: don’t use inorganic nitrogen fertilizer.
Note: you’ve likely heard this rule for fungicide as well. Again, that’s assuming you’re buying a catch-all, heavy-hitting fungicide. The truth is, you may be experiencing brown patches in your warm-weather grass or sod webworm in your cool-season turf which does require fungicide for treatment; in acute cases, it’s completely fine to apply fungicide, but seek out a natural, less aggressive one.
Don’t: spray full-lawn weed control
Do: spot-treat as needed.
Do not spray or use any weed control during the summer – your lawn is already under severe stress. If weeds are cropping up, use acute spot treatments in the evening, so the spots treated have some cooler “breathing” time through the night.
Don’t: cut during the day
Do: cut near the evening
It’s not just about avoiding the heat because you don’t want to suffer a heat stroke – it’s about protecting your grass. Mow in the late afternoon or evening when the temperatures are lower, so that your lawn has all evening to “relax” before the heat really sets in.
Don’t: cut too much or too often
Do: cut “high” every 7-10 days
Your grass’s roots need shade so that they don’t overheat. A general rule is to not cut more than 1” at a time, leaving the cut “high” on the blade of grass. Cut every 7-10 days. If you don’t cut at all, you risk your lawn entering dormancy, which isn’t much fun (or very cost effective) to revive.
Seem like too much maintenance? Give us a call and we’ll keep your lawn in tip-top shape – in the summer and year-round!