Summer Lawn Care 101
Memorial Day has come and gone, and it’s time to think about how you’re going to care for your lawn this summer (or, you know, you could leave it to our professionals)! Exciting, we know! To help you out, we took several useful tips from some the best landscapers around and put together a definitive list to ensure you have the healthiest lawn in your neighborhood! From mowing, watering and weeding, to proper aeration and fertilization, this article will give you the wherewithal to master the basics of summer lawn care.
Mowing has a greater impact on the health of your grass than any other maintenance activity, and the truth? Less is more. Many people make the mistake of mowing their lawns WAY too short, which stresses out the grass. Taller grass not only promotes healthier root development, but it also shades the ground so it doesn’t dry out as fast. It also helps to block the sun that those pesky weed seeds need to germinate, and no one wants that. Pro Tips:
- Be consistent when you mow so you don’t scalp your lawn.
- Alternate mowing directions.
- Mow only the top third of the grass when you cut.
- Mow earlier in the day when the dew dries or in the evening when the temperatures drop. Since mowing opens the tip of the grass blade, doing so in the middle of the day can cause a higher loss of moisture.
Just like you and me, your lawn needs more water in the summer when it’s hotter and drier. Long dry spells will hurt your lawn, allowing greater susceptibility to disease and infestation. A lack of water will also cause your lawn to go dormant, a natural defense mechanism that causes the grass to shut down all non-essential parts, like top growth. To prevent this, give your lawn about an inch of water each week. This will promote healthy growth and help roots extend deeper into the soil. Pro Tips:
- Water in the mornings so grass can dry throughout the day.
- Soil type is important: Sandy soils will dry out faster, while clay soils hold moisture for longer periods of time.
- For a newly seeded lawn, water every day for 5 to 10 minutes only.
Keeping weeds at bay can be an ongoing and frustrating battle. Crabgrass, dandelions and those fast-growing annual summer weeds (the ones that flower, seed and then die in the fall) are the enemy of every lawn gardener. While manually pulling them out of the ground is an effective means of management, using a commercial weed control or a natural herbicide can also work wonders. However, the best method is ensuring a healthy, well-maintained lawn. Pro Tips:
- Mow properly
- Water as needed
Aeration is the process of poking holes in your lawn to improve oxygen circulation. When your grass and soil gets too compacted, oxygen and nutrients can’t get to the roots—where they’re most needed. This stunts lawn growth and allows weeds to take over. Aerating loosens the soil and fixes this problem. To figure out if your lawn needs aeration, stick a garden fork into the ground. If the fork fails to penetrate at least 2 inches, it’s time to aerate! Pro Tips:
- Water your lawn 1 to 2 days prior to aerating your lawn
- Flag hidden objects in the lawn to avoid hitting them
Your lawn is hungry! Experts recommend fertilizing at least twice a year (once in the spring and once in the fall), that but this is the bare minimum. In reality, most fertilizers are best applied every two months throughout the season. Lawns can either be fertilized organically with compost and mulching mowers, or with chemical fertilizers. Pro Tips:
- Fertilizers that include micronutrients (such as sulfur, copper and iron) are like multivitamins for your lawn.
- Apply dolomitic lime to your lawn every few years in order to restore pH levels.
- Do not over-fertilize in the spring: this can lead to weed problems!