Everybody’s lawn looks good in April, but think back to last August. Now’s the time to get your lawn ready for the hot weather ahead. With our cool, wet spring it’s hard to believe it’s going to get hot, but you know it is. A little planning and care now will pay off when the temperature is pushing 100.
Water wisely. The amount and length of time you water will depend on your soil type. A sandy, loose soil will need more frequent irrigation then heavy clay. Deep and infrequent irrigation is the best way to water established turf and encourage deep roots. Shallow watering promotes shallow roots. Don’t forget to adjust your automatic system for the time of year. Leaving your sprinklers on the same setting all year is a bad idea because of the lawn’s changing demand for water. Incorrect irrigation is one of the biggest contributors to lawn problems, with overwatering being the worst problem. Too much water causes root rot, which kills the plant. Don’t water every day!
Mow Higher. The height you mow can greatly affect the number of weeds you have in your grass. Mowing high shades out weeds that need light to germinate. A longer blade also helps regulate soil temperature and conserves moisture. 3 inches on Bluegrass isn’t too long.
Fertilize Correctly. If you want nice green growth you have to give your grass some nitrogen. Too much and you cause problems like thatch build up and overloading the soil with fertilizer salts. Just like us, the grass wants to slow down and rest when it’s hot. Don’t fertilize in July and August. If your lawn looks pale in mid summer give it some iron to green it up without forcing growth with nitrogen. Fall is the most beneficial time to fertilize your lawn. Follow label directions to avoid over fertilizing.
Leave Grass Clippings On. This fertilizer won’t cost you a cent. You can cut the amount of fertilizer you need if you leave your clippings on the lawn. A good rule of thumb is to never cut off more than one third of the grass blade. Clippings are full of nitrogen and water and decompose quickly adding valuable nutrients back to your soil. Don’t leave clumps because they might suffocate the grass. Lawn clipping do not contribute to thatch. In fact, as the microbes decompose the clippings they also decompose some of the thatch layer. This is a good thing because too much thatch, caused by improper fertilizing and watering, can be the cause of other problems. A mulching mower isn’t necessary. If there seems to be a particularly thick clump run over the clippings again to chop them up and blow them around a little. It works for me.
Prepare your lawn to thrive when the hot weather of summer makes us all feel like wilting. Sitting in the shade on a nice green lawn, lemonade in hand, is bound to make us feel better.