If spring lawn care is about getting your lawn healthy and green, summer lawn care is about KEEPING it healthy. It’s also about maintaining a lawn that can withstand all the barbecues, games, parties, and high traffic that summer should offer. Here are some tips for keeping your lawn in shape over the long, hot days of summer.
Once temperatures get into the 80s or higher, some lawns will begin to struggle a little. Growth will slow, color may fade, and lawns will show signs of wear and tear as they are less able to recover from stress or high traffic. Some cool-season lawns will even go dormant in the summer, looking brown and brittle until fall.
•Insect and disease
•Dormant or drought-stressed summer lawns can be more susceptible to insect infestations, such as chinch bugs, cutworms, armyworms, sod webworms, fire ants, fleas, and mosquitoes. Minor infestations often take care of themselves, but severe problems may require attention.
•Summer is also the time for fungal diseases, such as powdery mildew and brown patch. Apply fungicide if needed, and avoid watering in the evening to keep nighttime moisture at a minimum.
•Grubs will begin hatching in your lawn over the summer. If grubs typically cause problems in your lawn, you can begin applying grub control around midsummer.
Post emergent herbicides are designed to kill broadleaf weeds without harming turf grass, but they must be applied when temperatures will be below 85° F for a few days. Keep in mind that during the heat of summer, ANY product can be damaging to already-stressed lawn grasses, so use sparingly or hand-pull weeds instead.
Don’t over fertilize
If your lawn is looking straggly in midsummer, resist the urge to fertilize. In fact, it’s best to stop fertilizing about 30 days before your area’s summer temperatures arrive. Applying extra fertilizer in the heat of summer can burn your lawn and create a flush of tender growth that will struggle in the hot summer weather. Never fertilize dormant lawns – wait until they green up in the fall.
Avoid applying excessive nitrogen
•Never fertilize during the hottest days. Always apply during cool temps above 70 and water immediately.
Your turf and plants need nitrogen to thrive, but now isn’t the time to apply excessive amounts of it to your landscape.
Having too much nitrogen will create the need for more water, which in turn, increases fungal activity. It can also cause top growth at the expense of root growth.
Raise your mower blade in the summer. Taller grass is more drought-tolerant, grows deeper roots, and helps shade the earth to prevent weed seeds from germinating. Cool-season grasses should be mowed at 3”- 4” during the summer, or as high as your blade will go, while warm-season grasses should be mowed at 2”- 3”.
Mulching grass clippings helps keep moisture levels steady.
Keep mower blades sharp. Make sure your mower is cutting your grass, not tearing it, to minimize stress during hot temperatures.
Water early in the day to reduce evaporation and fungal growth.
Either water your lawn regularly and deeply, or don’t water at all. Don’t let your lawn go 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.