There’s no doubt that it can be tough to keep your lawn happy and healthy during the long, hot days of summer. As temperatures soar and rainfall becomes a distant memory, your lawn will need a bit of extra care to stay fresh and vibrant all through the season. Read on for a look at some of the most important things you can do to make sure your lawn enjoys summer just as much as you do.
Be Water Smart
The best way to help your lawn beat the heat is to make sure you’re watering it properly. Here’s what you need to do:
Water deeply—The rule of thumb for watering your lawn in the summer is “deeply and infrequently.” Shallow, frequent waterings encourage grass to grow short roots, which makes lawns more easily stressed by heat and drought and more vulnerable to pests and weeds. To avoid this problem, water your lawn well just once a week, or twice if weather conditions are very hot and dry. Most lawns will need a good inch of water to soak the soil deeply enough; ideally, you want the water to penetrate to a depth of four to six inches.
Know when to water—The best time to water your lawn is early in the morning, preferably before sunrise. This limits the amount of water lost to evaporation as your lawn has a chance to soak up the moisture before it gets too hot out. Watering in the evening, on the other hand, is not recommended because the grass doesn’t have time to dry out before nightfall, which makes the lawn more susceptible to disease.
Choose a watering system that’s right for you—There are many different systems you can use to water your lawn, so make sure you choose one that’s right for you and your property. Options include pulsating sprinklers, which shoot water horizontally at high speed; hose-end sprinklers, which are perfect for smaller or medium-sized lawns; in-ground sprinkler systems, which can deliver water efficiently to larger lawns; and smart watering systems that can fully automate the watering process.
Know when not to water—If your region has water restrictions in place due to drought or other conditions, respect the rules and avoid watering your grass. Don’t worry that you’ll do any lasting damage to your lawn: grass is very resilient, and will usually bounce back quite easily as soon as cooler weather and rains return.
Mow Like a Pro
Mowing the lawn is the quintessential summertime yard chore. Here’s how to do it right:
Mow high—Summertime is the right time to raise that mower blade! Taller grass grows deeper roots, tolerates drought better, and provides more shade for the soil (which helps prevent weed seeds from germinating), so make sure you’re not giving your lawn a buzz cut when you mow. Cool season grasses should be mowed to a height of about three or four inches, while warm season grasses should be cut to two or three inches. You also don’t want to cut more than one-third of the grass blade at a time, so mowing more often can help you avoid that problem.
Sharpen your mower blades—Speaking of mower blades, when did you last sharpen yours? Dull blades tear or shred grass blades rather than cut them smoothly, which causes grass to lose more moisture and puts more stress on your lawn in dry weather. Make sure you sharpen your mower blades at the beginning of summer, and resharpen them as needed during the season. Blades usually become dull after about 10 hours of mowing.
Leave your clippings—Also known as “grasscycling,” leaving clippings on the lawn after each mowing session is a good summer habit to adopt. Not only will the clippings break down and provide valuable nourishment for your lawn, it’s also less work for you!
More Lawn Tips
While mowing and watering are your main summer lawn care activities, there are several other ways you can show your lawn some love this season. These include:
Fertilizing—If you live in a warm region and/or your lawn is made of warm season grasses, fertilizing your lawn early in the season can help your grass grow thick and healthy before the true heat of summer arrives. However, it is important not to overfertilize, so use a product that’s made specifically for summer feedings and be sure to follow the instructions carefully.
Keeping weeds under control—If weeds are able to gain a foothold on your lawn, they can crowd out healthy grass and steal important nutrients. Keep weeds under control by checking for them often, and dealing with them as soon as you spot them: you can use an herbicide that kills weeds without harming your grass, or you can do it the old-fashioned way and pull emerging weeds by hand.