Summer Lawn Care Tips
In our local area, cool season grass varieties such as tall fescue, bluegrass and perennial ryegrass are the most common in lawns. Growth rate for these grass varieties will begin to slow as the weather gets hotter and rainfall decreases. As a homeowner, cultural practices are now more important than ever to prevent additional stress. Warm season grass varieties such as zoysia and bermuda tend to do better during the hot summer months and the maintenance for these grass plants differ when it comes to fertilizing, aeration and cultural practices. The below tips are for cool season grass varieties.
- Now is the time to decide whether you want you want to maintain the green color from the spring or let your lawn go dormant for the remainder of summer or until weather conditions change. Either decision works, please just don’t allow your lawn to turn brown, water it back to green and then let it go dormant again. This roller coaster ride depletes the grass plants energy reserves and will cause stress. Proper watering practices will maintain good turf color, keep your lawn free from diseases and will save money in only watering when your lawn needs it. If you choose to let your lawn go dormant, avoid excessive traffic over your lawn until it recovers in early fall.
- Avoid synthetic fertilizers which feed a lawn with nutrients encouraging a lawn to continue to grow. Instead, switch to organic blends to build soil chemistry which has long term benefits or consider topdressing your lawn with compost. The use of herbicides to control unwanted weeds must be applied carefully during the hot summer days and always follow the manufacturers’ directions.
- Finally, while mowing height is a personal preference from one homeowner to the next, there are many benefits to raising your mower to its highest setting during the hottest months of the year. Also, never cut more than 1/3 of the grass plant in any single cutting.
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With the significant amount of rain we have received this year (written on 07/10/2013) and with day temperatures getting up into the 90’s lawn diseases are starting to appear in lawns. The most common lawn diseases in our local area are Dollar Spot, Brown Patch, Leaf Spot, Summer Patch, Red Thread, Necrotic Ring Spot and Fairy Ring. While unsightly as they are, only 5% of the time will a lawn disease actually kill the turf grass plant and generally most lawns will recover on their own when environmental conditions change. Fungicide treatments are available for turf lawns for both curative and preventative and in the case of curative can stop the spread of the disease and begin the recovery process sooner. If you are interested in a fungicide treatment or would like to discuss this topic further, please call our office at (618) 539-9811.
The below cultural practices are extremely important at this time of the year when lawn diseases are favorable:
1. Irrigation – If your lawn requires watering, the morning hours are best as damp conditions at night will act as a catalyst, causing lawn diseases to start or spread them further throughout the lawn. Deep and infrequent watering is always best when irrigating a lawn as well.
2. Mowing – While mowing a lawn high (3.5″) is recommended during the summer months, you don’t want the lawn to get excessively high (greater than 4″) as this holds more moisture again creating favorable conditions for lawn diseases. As it is important throughout the year, it is extremely important during the summer to never mow more than 1/3 of the grass plant in a single cutting as this puts the grass plant into stress which makes it more vulnerable for lawn diseases. Mower blades need to be sharp as ripped grass blades allow more surface area for diseases to start. A general rule is mower blades should be sharpened every 8-10 hours of actual cutting time.
3. Thatch Control – While not a practice that should be done during the summer months for cool season grass varieties you should consider aerating this fall as this service has many benefits to a lawn, including thatch control that will help in future years.
For more information about lawn diseases, please click here to visit our blog.
Planning on seeding this Spring?
There are a few things to consider when seeding a lawn in the spring:
- If a pre-emergent fertilizer was applied to your lawn to prevent crabgrass and other weed seeds from germinating, the same will happen to newly plant grass seed. Therefore, you will need to scratch the surface of the ground exposing the dirt which will disturb the pre-emergent barrier and allow your grass seed to germinate.
- Springtime weeds will seem to grow anywhere and everywhere and will grow faster then grass seed. First reaction may be to use your favorite herbicide to control those weeds, but hold off at least 60 days from the time the seed was planted or until the newly planted seed areas have been mowed at least 3 times, which ever is the later to make sure it is mature enough for weed control products.
- During the Summer drought months, established lawns will be able to go dormant and then bounce back during the Fall, but areas seeded during the Spring may not be developed enough or have a deep enough root system. Consider extra watering to these areas during those periods of lack of rainfall.
Five reasons why not to collect grass clippings
- Recycling clippings back into the lawn improves lawn quality. Clippings return nutrients to the soil as they decompose.
- Clippings do not cause thatch. The belief that grass clippings cause thatch has been ruled out by recent research, which finds that thatch is composed mainly of grass roots.
- Recycling clippings is a responsible environment practice. Currently, landscape wastes, including clippings, account for almost 20% of all curbside waste.
- Clippings do not spread lawn diseases. Disease spores are present whether clippings are collected or returned.
- Recycling clippings saves time and extra work.
For more information about collecting grass clippings and proper mowing practices, click here to visit our blog.
Did You Know?
- Well cared for lawns can significantly increase the property value of a home.
- A healthy lawn is very important to our environment. A 50-foot by 50-foot lawn produces enough oxygen for a family of four.
- Lawns cool the atmosphere. Four average lawns have the cooling effect of 70 tons of air conditioning, which is enough for 16 average homes.
- Grass converts carbon dioxide to oxygen, a process that helps clear the air and allows us to breathe.
- Dense, healthy grass slows water runoff, removing contaminants and trapping soil. Fresh, filtered water then returns to the underground water supply.
- Do not over water. Watering your lawn should almost never be done daily. Over watering causes shallow roots, nutrient loss, disease-susceptibility and severe problems with weeds. Ideally, a lawn should receive one to two inches of water per week with the soil saturated to a depth of four to six inches. How much water your lawn requires will vary with weekly rainfall amounts.
- The 1/3 Rule – Every time your lawn is mowed no more than 1/3 of the grass plant should be cut. If not mowed often enough the grass plant is stunned and the root system stops growing.
- 150 Rule – When temperature and the humidity added together are 150 or higher your lawn is at its weakest making it vulnerable to many different diseases. Good turfgrass management practices are especially important at this time. A sharp mower blade is a must! Dull mower blades injure the grass leaf and cause ragged, torn ends which allow moisture to escape and disease to enter. Sharp blades will not only prevent this but will also give a better overall appearance of your lawn.
- Dull Mower Blades – The visual quality of turf is greatly reduced with dull mower blades due to shredding of the grass tips, producing a discolored brown cast. Dull mower blades also increase disease susceptibility and the shredded tips of the grass offer more surface area from which water could evaporate. Mower blades should be sharpened every 8-10 hours of actual cutting time.