Ah, yes. It’s that time again, folks. The point during the summer when your initial enthusiasm and joy at the warming temperatures of June gives way to a desire to take refuge inside your air-conditioned home and wait out July and August until the relief of early fall. While we humans have the option to artificially cool ourselves down during these dog days of summer, our lawns have no such recourse. The high 80s and 90s and relentless sun can turn your lush green lawn into a dusty, barren swathe of scorched earth lest ye’ make some changes to help keep the heat at bay!
Here are our annual tips for maintaining and reinforcing a beautiful lawn that will stand up to summer’s most brutal assaults!
1) Check Your Watering Times: Most of us had our systems set for the relatively wet months of early spring, but, given this year’s rainfall, those settings made sense in early summer, as well. Now, however, is the time you may want to tweak your watering times in specific zones (especially those in “full sun”). Remember; long exposure to the sweltering heat and sun of July means your soil retains less moisture, so you’ll have to compensate. If you’re currently watering every other day, you may want to consider a daily watering schedule until temps drop and the rains return. Remember to water EARLY (pre-dawn is best) and for longer durations, and avoid watering after sundown unless you’re still establishing a new lawn as letting your grass soak overnight is a recipe for fungus and moss.
2) Let it Grow!: While it’s tempting to cut one’s lawn short (for that golf course look), this is a bad idea! This is because a lower cut means less shade for your lawn’s thirsty roots, and less shade means less water retention. We advise cutting no lower than three inches! Be careful on curbs and slopes and try to maintain a consistent and even cut.
3) Bug Off: This is the time of the year when pesky ants and other subterranean beasties decide your grass makes for a great place for them to dig their bumpy, unsightly homes. Ant hills are the most noticeable as you’ll see dry sediment and clays churned up in the form of little hills, and, when left untended, these will spread. Even if you’ve treated your lawn for pests in the spring, these guys will come back (hence the name “pests”) and it’s worth the time and expense to re-treat your grounds to get rid of them. Grubs are another annoyance, and can really do a number on your lawn. While the baby grubs feast on your roots, grub-lovin’ varmints like racoons and skunks dig up patches of sod trying to get at them, and the results are a patchy brown disaster! There are a variety of chemical and organic options available to rid your lawn of damaging pests, so look for the option that best suits you.
4) Fungus: Remember tip #1 about not watering after dark because of the potential for moss and fungi? Yeah, well here’s where it can get a little confusing, but stick with me; we’ll work it out together!
You see, Fungi naturally live in grass, and remain dormant until a specific set of conditions arise to bring them out of their slumber. There are many types of fungi that are activated by drought, so it makes sense to water as much as you can to fight that, right?? Well, yes and no! Some fungi, such as “Rust”, are brought on by excessive heat and humidity, while Slime Mold (it’s as gross as it sounds) can be a result of overwatering. This is why we water early and for longer durations, giving the soil a chance to suck in as much moisture before the sun comes up and evaporates what’s on the surface.
Now, the thing is, all yards aren’t created equal. Some areas may be excessively shady, while others may be smack dab in the sun’s sights, so this is where paying attention to your individual zones watering needs comes into play.
It’s also vital that you make sure your rain sensor is in good working order so that you don’t accidentally water your lawn in the middle of a downpour! It’s important to be able to identify which fungus is which as each requires a different set of treatments and adjustments to your maintenance regimen. For a great visual guide, check here!
We hope these tips make the rest of your summer lawn care a (warm) breeze!