Summer can be a rough time for your lawn, but with a few minor tweaks you can be sure your lawn will reward you. A lot of factors influence the condition of your lawn during summer months. A few are, rainfall/watering, temperature, foot traffic and soil composition.
Mowing at a height of 2.5-3” during the growing season is one of the best things you can do for your lawn; this will allow the grass to hold on to more water and shades the soil to limit evaporation loss. A shorter lawn may look “nice” but will go dormant early, not handle drought stress, allows more germination of weed seeds and makes the grass plants more susceptible to environmental pathogens. MOW TALL! While we are on the subject of mowing, be sure to keep your mower blade sharp. This will make a cleaner cut to the grass blade and limit the exposed plant cells from fungal diseases and insect damage. Mow regularly, never removing more than 1/3 rd of the leaf blade to reduce stress on the turf grasses.
Lawns that are going into dormancy will have irregular patches of slowly browning out grass. This is most often due to a lack of water. An actively growing lawn during the heat of summer needs a minimum of 1” of watering or rainfall per week. It is best to water early in the morning to avoid water loss due to evaporation. Watering deeper and more infrequent is another recommendation that will help encourage deep root growth which gives turf access to water that is further down in the soil even when the top of the soil is dry.
Avoid walking on drought stressed lawns; when the grass is drier it is easier to flatten and compact the leaf blades increasing the chance of a fungal pathogen taking hold and shading out other grass plants. Inversely, if your lawn is very wet or soggy, walking on the grass may lead to soil compaction and limit the amount of oxygen that makes it to the root zone.
The fertilizers we use are controlled release, meaning that they won’t burn your lawn if it was applied during a period of drought. This will make nutrients available to the grass as soon as conditions improve and allow new growth. If your lawn goes into dormancy, it is best to allow it to stay that way until Mother Nature says otherwise. Still water about ¼” per week, if it doesn’t rain, to ensure the crown of the plants don’t dry completely; this would kill the grass plant.