Today is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year!
It’s also the official start of summer! While summer is a time to relax, the hot, dry weather can create stress for our lawns. High temperatures, limited rainfall, and even overuse can damage grasses. We want our lawns lush and green for outdoor activities, but sometimes we try too hard to fight nature in the process.
Follow these tips for Summer Lawn Care to achieve a healthy balance!
Mowing Your Lawn
Keep Blades Sharp. Even if you’ve sharpened the blades on your mower earlier in the spring, you’ll want to check them regularly and sharpen them as needed. Instead of a clean cut, dull blades can pull at the grass, leaving the plant more susceptible to disease and looking raggedy. Sharpen your blades at least once per season. If you can sharpen your blades at home, consider sharpening more often!
Mow at the right height. Proper mowing has a significant impact on the health of your lawn. Keeping your grass at a minimum height of 3 inches can help protect it from the stressors of summer. You need to keep grass long enough to be able to produce the food and energy it needs to stay healthy. Longer grass blades have more surface area for photosynthesis, deeper root systems, and hold more reserve water. As your lawn becomes more dense and lush, the grass will shade the soil and help keep weeds from spreading. A general rule is do not cut off more than 1/3 of the total blade height when you mow. By this rule, the best time to mow the lawn is when it approaches a length about 4 ½ inches high. During summer, think of it as “trimming” your lawn versus cutting it.
Keep clippings. If you follow these suggestions, you won’t need to gather the clippings after you mow. A healthy, dense lawn will easily break down clippings, adding essential nutrients to your soil when they decompose. Clippings will also be less visible in a higher lawn!
Never mow a wet lawn. Ever!
Watering Your Lawn
When it comes to watering your lawn, the best approach is to water deeply, but infrequently.
Lighter, more frequent watering actually discourages deep roots. Grass needs about 1 inch of water a week. You can keep a rain guage (or even reuse a tuna can) to measure how much rain you received and how much you watered. Water early in the day to avoid evaporation and to deter fungus. Be sure to follow any water restrictions for your area.
Keeping it Fresh
Traffic. Once temperatures rise into the 80s and above, lawns can begin to struggle, especially cool-season grasses. Lawns can show signs of wear and tear as they’re less able to recover from stress and overuse. Growth will slow and color may fade. Consider creating a stone pathway in high-traffice areas to avoid damage to your lawn, and remember not to fertilize while the lawn is under heat stress.
Color. If your lawn begins to lose color while you’re unable to fertilize, try using Liquid Iron. Iron improves grass color without forcing the growth that you get with high nitrogen fertilizers. Our sugar-chelated Liquid Iron soil amendment provides a fast-acting source of iron to increase chlorophyll in any plant, making it rapidly greener without the growth. This is the perfect mid-to-late summer application for a lawn that is looking a little more ragged than you’d like!
Dormancy. Some lawns will go dormant in the summer, looking brown and brittle until early fall. Dormancy is a natural coping mechanism, and a healthy lawn can withstand drought conditions for about 3-4 weeks. Allowing your lawn to stay dormant is actually healthier than watering it occasionally and then stopping.
By understanding and respecting the seasonal changes of turf grasses, you can take steps to naturally care for your lawn as the season progresses. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the experts at Nature’s Lawn and Garden – we’re always happy to help!
Now, get ready for grillin’ and chillin’!