Keep a Healthy Summer Lawn
In the spring and early summer, your lawn is working hard to become strong and healthy, with your help watering and fertilizing it. When the summer heat comes, your turf switches to more of a survival mode, since heat is very tough on lawns. Here are some tips to preparing your lawn in the spring and keeping it green and ready for all of the running feet, barbecues, and volleyball games:
Lawns need at least one inch of water 4 or 5 times per week in temps below 80 degrees, and about an inch more for every five degrees the temperatures climb. Use a rain gauge or straight-sided can to monitor the amount of water from rainfall and irrigation.
Beginning when spring rain tapers off, water deeply and less frequently to encourage drought-tolerant roots. The best plan is to water deeply 4 or 5 days a week, skipping the day you mow. If you water just a little each day, you’re conditioning your lawn to have shallow roots that won’t adequately supply your lawn when it gets over 80 degrees.
Water early in the day to reduce evaporation and fungal growth. It is easy for standing water to grow fungus in hot weather, and turf fungal problems are the most costly lawn problems there are. If any part of your lawn is squishy at mid-day, that’s too much.
When it gets above 85 for consecutive days, consider a 5 minute sprinkle in the middle of the day to cool down your lawn, especially if you have thin clay soil, south facing windows reflecting sun onto the lawn, or lots of pet urine.
It is much easier to keep a lawn green than to try to turn it from yellow back to green. Some lawns can’t ever come back to green when it gets hot, no matter how much water you pour on them. They only come back when the weather cools again in the fall.
Keep your mower blades sharp, and check your mower height. It’s ok to cut short in the spring and fall, but you must leave the grass a little longer in the summer, to help it retain its moisture. Lawns maintained at higher heights usually develop deeper roots and dry out slower than closely mowed turf. Lawn growth will slow as the weather gets drier and hotter.
Mow regularly to prevent cutting more than 1/3 of the grass blade at a time. This keeps your grass healthier and prevents the clippings from smothering the grass. Taking off too much at a time changes how your grass retains water, and hot weather can quickly dry out grass that has been cut too short, and you might not get it green again until fall.
Fertilizing and Controlling Weeds
You must be very, very careful applying fertilizer in the summer. Use only a slow release nitrogen product, and water daily at midday for 5 or 10 minutes to keep the nitrogen from converting to ammonia too quickly and burning your grass. If you make a mistake and burn your grass with summer fertilizer, it almost always means your grass is dead, not dormant, and you will have to replant your lawn in the fall. TLC has a summer fertilizer plan, and I can advise you on the best way. Our program is appropriate fertilizer and weed control all season long, and is determined by your lawn’s summer needs. There are several tough weeds that pop up in June, and can only be treated in hot weather. If applied improperly, these treatments can damage your lawn permanently.
Avoid leaving pools and slip n’ slides in the same area. They will damage the grass after only 2 or 3 days. Move them around frequently.
Try to limit foot traffic on the lawn. If possible install stepping stones in high traffic areas.
Use these tips to maintain a healthy lawn all summer long. Contact TLC at 208-882-7230 if you have further questions or need help with your lawn maintenance.