Does sitting outside in the extreme heat of summer stress you out? You’re not alone! Extreme heat stresses out your lawn also! The lack of water and unbearable heat can wreak havoc on your lawn. What can you do to make sure your lawn has a stress-free summer?
1. Don’t Cut Too Short
Cutting your grass too short limits your plants’ ability to produce energy for growth. When grass is cut to a proper height it develops stronger roots that allow for more support and makes them more tolerant of stress.
2. Stick To The 1/3 Rule
When cutting your grass in the heat, try to stick to the 1/3 Rule: Never remove more than 1/3 of the grass height at one time. By sticking to this rule, your lawn is kept cooler because less plant tissue is removed. This allows your lawn to thrive and avoid stress.
3. Limit Watering
Many people still water their lawns after rainfall. In general, grass manages better when soil is on the dry side rather than wet. When soil is consistently wet it can cause many problems for both the plants and soil organisms. Wet soil deprives plant roots of oxygen and makes them more susceptible to disease. Try to avoid watering daily. Lawns only need 1″ of water per week including rainfall. Try to water deeply and infrequently. Watering deeply means wetting the entire root zone. Watering infrequently means only watering when the grass is dry. Try to water early in the morning when your lawn can get the full benefit of hydration before the sun dries it out by mid-day. Watering in the evening leaves the water standing overnight with nothing to dry it up which can lead to mold and fungus.
4. Don’t Mow In A Drought
Try to avoid mowing during the stress of a drought. Lawns have limited capabilities to recover from mowing during drought and it can actually cause even more damage. During a drought, try to mow after a rainfall or after an irrigation day. Try to resist mowing while the grass is still wet to avoid clumping.
5. Sharpen Mower Blades
When grass is cut with sharp mower blades the plant will heal much faster. Mowing with dull blades actually tears the plant tissue rather than cutting it, causing more stress and damage to your grass. Torn grass develops a brown appearance and is more susceptible to disease and stress.
6. Don’t Bag Clippings
If possible, use a mulching mower so clippings can be returned to your lawn. Clippings can actually act as a slow-release fertilizer as they decompose on your lawn and can be quite beneficial to your lawn’s health.
7. Avoid Fertilizer
Although fertilizing your lawn might seem like a good idea, it is actually best to avoid it during the hot summer months. In the summer, grass consumes more energy than they produce. Fertilizer actually promotes growth which causes the grass to consume even more energy which causes more stress on your already taxed lawn. It’s best to fertilize in the fall as part of your winter lawn prep.
8. Minimize Traffic
Foot traffic on already stressed grass can beat down the blades which prevent them from springing back. Try to avoid foot traffic on your lawn, if possible. You may consider laying down stepping stones to help people avoid walking on your grass.
9. Pest Control
Insects and diseases are more prevalent in the summer months. Some common lawn pests include chinch bugs, sod webworms, fire ants, and fleas. Fungal diseases like mildew and brown patch are also common in the summer. To avoid pests and fungus, try to water in the early morning and avoid nighttime watering. If necessary, apply a fungicide on a mild day when the extreme heat has passed.