Virginia summers are known to be hot and humid. While sunlight is good for your grass, extra attention needs to be given to ensure your lawn remains healthy all summer long.
The following is a guide for caring for your turf this summer:
Different Lawn Types
There are two types of grasses typically used: cool-season grasses, such as Tall Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass, and warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda and Zoysia.
Cool-season grasses grow best during cooler months, while warm-season grasses grow best in the summer heat.
Your cool season grasses will become weaker in the summer. This makes it more difficult to recover after experiencing stress, such as being cut improperly or heavy foot traffic. Your grass also faces death if not watered correctly.
This, in turn, can diminish your property’s curb appeal, something that’s particularly important if you plan on selling your home at any point. To avoid this, you must give your lawn the attention it needs.
Taking Care of Your Lawn in the Summer
In the summer, it is important to focus on watering, mowing, controlling weeds, and protecting against insects and disease. If you have warm season turf, fertilization is vital to help the grass thrive while temperatures are high. While all of these areas of lawn care are important throughout the year, they differ during the summer due to the challenges summer weather brings.
Watering Your Lawn in the Summer
You need to pay careful attention to the condition your grass is in, because drought and heat stress are most common in the summer. During periods of drought, you may need to water more than normal.
When you water your lawn, you must water deeply. Making sure your grass gets at least 1.5 inches of water once a week will be more successful than topically watering your lawn four or five times a week. We recommend watering 2-3 times per week between 4:00-7:00 A.M. This gives the water time to seep down into the soil, to the roots of the grass. If you water during the middle of the day, up to 50% of your water is evaporated by the sun, meaning the roots of your lawn won’t receive the water they need. Watering at night is a bad idea as well—the water sticks to the grass blades without evaporating, leaving the foliage wet and causing fungal growth overnight.
By watering this way, you encourage the roots to become more drought-tolerant. If you notice that your grass is fading to a straw color and becoming more brittle, it means you may be experiencing drought stress.
Protecting Your Lawn Against Insects and Diseases
Summer lawns that grow dormant or experience drought stress tend to be more vulnerable to insect infestations and diseases. Keep an eye out for potential insect problems and fungal diseases by visually inspecting your grass regularly for damage. You may need to apply fungicide if you spot any diseased grass blades. Virginia Green can help with these applications.
Mowing Your Lawn in the Summer
If you have cool-season grass, keep it between 3.5 to 4 inches tall during the summer. If you have warm-season grass, keep it at around 1.5 inches tall for Bermuda, and 2 to 3 inches tall for Zoysia.
You should keep your Tall Fescue grass tall during the summer in order to:
- Shade the soil and prevent photodegradation (breaking down of pre-emergents)
- Make the grass more drought-tolerant
- Allow the grass to grow deeper roots
- Encourage a thicker stand of turf which will prevent weed growth
You should never cut more than one-third of the grass blade at a time. Mowing more can affect its health by temporarily “shocking” the turf. This can turn the grass yellow quickly, allowing more stress to impact the growth, as well as opening up the possibility of disease.
Additionally, you’ll want to keep lawn clippings where they fall to promote your lawn’s health. If the clippings are too heavy, they could block out light which the grass needs, rather than help it grow. This can quickly damage existing turf, so it’s best to scatter lawn clippings evenly throughout the lawn using a leaf blower or soft rake.
Before you begin mowing your grass, be sure to check the sharpness of the blades. Dull blades can cause serious damage to your grass by tearing instead of cutting it cleanly. This can cause discoloration of the turf and detract from the overall appearance of your lawn. Sharp mower blades will also help to minimize the amount of stress your lawn experiences in the summer heat.
Fertilizing Your Lawn in the Summers
Fertilizing is a little tricky during the summer season. If you have cool-season grass, then you should avoid fertilizing altogether during the summer. Grass clippings that are returned to the turf after mowing will provide the lawn with plenty of nutrients and extend the duration of disease-preventing treatments.
Warm-season grass will benefit from fertilizing during the summer months. Though fertilizers will provide necessary nutrients during the growth period, too much can be detrimental. Be careful when applying and always read product labels.
Contact Virginia Green
If you need of professional lawn care this summer, contact us today or call us at (804) 285-6200 to receive your free estimate.