The summer’s heat has been pretty intense. It’s enough to make a gardener feel downright deflated. And if it’s making you feel bad, think about how your poor lawn is feeling! It’s getting walked on, played on, sat upon, and roughhoused on. So to keep your lawn happy, green, and healthy during the dog days of summer, keep reading.
5 Tips to Keep Your Lawn Green Throughout Summer
1. Water smartly. In general, lawns need 1” – 1.5” of water per week, whether that’s from your irrigation system or from Mother Nature. Cool-season grasses (Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue) require about 20% more water than warm-season grasses (zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermudagrass). Know which type of grass you have so that you can give it what it needs. Aim to water an hour or two before sunrise to minimize evaporation, and avoid nighttime irrigation that can lead to disease issues.
2. Mow correctly. Make sure your mower blade is sharp, as a dull blade will tear rather than cut your grass, leading to moisture loss. Mow at the correct height, with cool-season grasses kept at 3” – 4” high and warm-season grasses kept at 2” – 3” high. Mow regularly, and never remove more than 1/3 of the blade height at any given time.
3. Control weeds. You never want a weed to bloom and throw their seed around to ruin next year’s lawn, so stay on top of weed control now. With organic lawns, it’s best to hand-pull unsightly weeds or use an organic weed control (always following directions for timing and application). Remember, any product used on a dormant or stressed summer lawn can cause damage, so keep your long-term goal of healthy grass at the front of your mind.
4. Avoid fertilizing. It’s best to stop fertilizing about 30 days before your area’s summer temps heat up. Although it’s tempting to put fertilizer on a struggling summer lawn, doing so can burn the grass and create a surge of new growth that will only continue to struggle in the heat. Wait till fall instead.
5. Stay on top of pests and disease. Oh, the bugs that stress out an already stressed-out summer lawn! From cutworms and chinch bugs to sod webworms, fire ants, fleas, and grubs, pests are even more attracted to a dormant or struggling lawn. And diseases like powdery mildew and brown patch are nothing to take lightly, either.
In many cases, a light infestation of bugs will correct itself but be prepared to treat severe problems promptly, and proper watering practices (see #1 above) go a long way to preventing fungal diseases in the first place. However, if you do need to treat, be sure to use an organic lawn fungicide for the best results.