It can get pretty hot in the summer throughout Virginia. While the sunlight is certainly a good thing for your grass, you’ll need to take extra care of your lawn to ensure it remains healthy over the course of the hotter days of the season.
Special care is needed, not only because of the rise in temperatures, but also because those hotter temperatures are often accompanied by summer droughts. Not to mention that the lawn experiences a lot more use during the summer when kids play in the grass and adults hold afternoon barbecues.
The following is a guide on how to take care of your lawn throughout the summer to ensure it stays healthy.
The Consequences of Ignoring Your Lawn
There are two main types of grass that people generally use for their lawns. These types are 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 heat of summer.
Your cool season grasses will become weaker, making it more difficult for it to recover if it experiences any stress, such as when it’s cut improperly or when it experiences a good deal of foot traffic. Your grass may even die out if it doesn’t get the water it needs.
This, in turn, can diminish your property’s curb appeal, something that’s particularly important if you plan on selling your home at some point. To avoid this, make sure you give your lawn the attention it needs.
Taking Care of Your Lawn in the Summer
There are areas of lawn care that you should focus on during the summer. These include watering, mowing, controlling weeds and protecting against insects and disease. If you happen to have warm season turf, fertilization is also important to help the grass thrive while temperatures are high. While all four of these areas of lawn care are important throughout the year, they differ during the summer because of the specific challenges that summer weather brings.
Watering Your Lawn in the Summer
Because there’s more risk of drought during the summer, you need to pay careful attention to the condition your grass is in. During periods of drought, you may need to water more than average.
However, make sure when you do water your lawn, that you water deeply. Making sure that your grass gets at least an inch and a half of water once a week is better than topically watering your lawn four or five times a week. We normally recommend watering three times per week in the early morning.
When you water your grass deeply, 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.
Last but not least, make sure that you water early on in the day. Somewhere in the time frame between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. is optimal for your watering schedule. This gives the water time to seep down into the soil, to the roots of your grass. If you water during the middle of the day, up to 50% of your water could possibly be evaporated by the sun, which means the roots of your lawn won’t get as much water as they need. Watering at night is generally a bad idea as well, because the water may stick to the blades of grass without evaporating, keeping foliage wet and causing fungal growth overnight.
Mowing Your Lawn in the Summers
If you have cool-season grass, keep it at roughly 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 fescue 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 growth potential, as well as opening up more disease possibility.
Additionally, you’ll want to keep the clippings where they fall to help promote your lawn’s health. If the clippings are too heavy, they could end up blocking out necessary light the grass needs instead of helping it grow. This can quickly damage existing turf so try your best to scatter any 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 a white to grey sheen to cover your lawn and detract from the overall appearance of your turf. Sharp mower blades will also help to minimize the amount of stress your lawn experiences during hotter days.
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. The grass clippings that are returned to the turf at the time of mowing will provide the lawn with enough nutrients, as well as extending the duration of any disease preventing treatment recently applied.
Warm-season grass will benefit from fertilizing during the summer months. However, though fertilizers will provide necessary nutrients during the growth period, too much can still be detrimental, so please be careful when applying and always read the labels of products being used.
Protecting Your Lawn Against Insects and Diseases
Summer lawns that grow dormant or become stressed by drought 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. Additionally, if you start having any problems with grubs, then apply grub control around midsummer.
Following the tips outlined in these four areas of lawn care will help to ensure that your grass continues to grow in a healthy and visually vibrant manner throughout the summer season.
If you are in need of professional lawn care this summer, then be sure to contact us for a free estimate today.