Hot and dry summer days are something most people cannot escape from during the summer months, and lawns are no different. Most neighbors’ grass you’ll see appears to be cooking in this heat, but if you look around, you might see a couple that are green and lush. Spring is all about getting your lawn nice and green and healthy, and summer is about keeping it that way.
Here’s some lawn care advice on how you can help your lawn look just as good as theirs in the heat of summer.
You will need to raise your mower blade in summer months. Taller grass is more resistant to drought, develops deeper roots, and helps shade the earth, which prevents weed seeds from germinating. If you have cool-season grasses like bluegrass, rye, and fescue, mow at three- to four-inches high in the summer, or as high as your blade will go. Warm season grasses like St. Augustine, Bermuda, Zoysia, and Centipede should be cut at two- to three- inches.
Mow regularly so that you don’t cut off more than one-third of the grass blade at any one time. This will help keep the grass healthier, and stops the clippings from smothering the grass underneath.
Speaking of clippings, mulching your grass clippings will help keep the lawn’s moisture levels steady.
Finally, keep your mower blades nice and sharp. They should cut the grass, not tear it, which can cause extra stress. This is the last thing your lawn needs during hot summer temperatures.
After each time you feed your lawn, the microbes in the soil process most of the nutrients within six to eight weeks. This means you should replenish with fertilizer on a regular basis. A well-fed lawn will grow in nice and thick, and will crowd out any weeds while working to shade the soil underneath. This also helps the lawn to better handle the heat. Try to time your lawn feeding so you do it about 30 days before the summer hits its highest temperatures, and then closer to the end of summer.
Organic fertilizers have a more slow-release, and won’t be as likely to burn your lawn compared to chemical fertilizers.
One caveat: if your lawn has grown dormant, don’t feed it until it is revived and greens up, most likely in the fall.
All types of grass need around one inch of water each week, and more when it’s hotter. Use a straight-sided can or rain gauge to keep track of how much water your lawn receives from irrigation or rainfall, and adjust accordingly.
Water deeply, and less frequently, in order to encourage drought-resistant root systems in your grass. Water early in the day to minimize evaporation and fungal growth, which happens when the lawn stays wet overnight.
Should your lawn go dormant, leave it be. Don’t try to water it back to life. It should come back in the autumn when the weather changes.
If you have an older lawn, it’s likely that you have grass varieties that aren’t meant to handle the high temperatures of summers. New grass varieties have been developed to help lawns withstand scorching temperatures and still look good. The best way to bring your lawn up to current science is to reseed with a tall fescue mix in fall or even early spring, which are optimal times for grass growth.
5. Tips for High-Traffic Areas
Most lawns show signs of wear by summertime, especially in areas that people use for pathways. Consider installing stepping stones in those areas to minimize damage to the grass, and try to keep people off of dry, brittle areas. If you get lots of rain and your lawn is still actively growing, you can throw down some fertilizer in those high-traffic areas in order to help the blades recover faster.