There are three main components to summer lawn care – mowing, watering, and disease and insect control. Other times of the year, we may focus on seeding, aerating, fertilizing, or other aspects. But during these hot summer months, this is all you need to worry about. From July through mid-September, your job is to keep your lawn from burning out or getting attacked by disease or insects. Here are some tips from the Kansas City lawn care experts at Heritage Lawns & Irrigation that will help you avoid mistakes.
Proper Mowing May Be More Involved than You Think
Most KC homeowners simply mow their lawns without a lot of thought or knowledge behind their actions. Many mow it incorrectly and unknowingly cause damage to their lawns. Here are three simple rules of thumb for mowing your grass.
- Never mow more than one third the length of the grass blade at a time. Each grass blade is its own individual plant. When you mow too low, you rob this plant of its ability to make food. A stressed grass blade will wither in the extreme heat of a Kansas City summer. Also, if you mow too low, you encourage more weeds to grow because you allow the sun to reach the weed seeds just waiting to take off. Weeds thrive in hot sun, while grass doesn’t, giving the weeds a distinct advantage.
- Sharpen your blades on your mower. Dull blades tend to shatter the top of the grass blade instead of producing a clean cut. This causes brown edges, but worse yet, it leaves the plant susceptible to disease.
- Mulch your clippings. Mulching as you mow puts the grass particles back into the turf. This adds nutrients such as nitrogen to the soil. You’ll end up with healthier turf.
Follow these tips and when the weather gets hot and dry, reduce your mowing frequency and raise your mowing height. Tall grass shades the ground and makes your soil stay wetter longer.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Brown Spots in Your Lawn
It’s very important this time of year to keep your eyes on your lawn. Diseases and insects can take over quickly and because of the heat, your grass is stressed to start with. Don’t give them a chance to do the damage they are capable of. Look for brown spots and investigate them quickly. Brown spots can be caused by grubs, caterpillars and insects, rocks, fungus, or just plain old drought. Carefully pull back the sod in suspicious areas, especially where brown grass meets green grass, to look for the grubs. Usually, if there are ten or more grubs in a square foot area, you’ll see damage. If you don’t see grubs and you’re not sure what is causing the problem, call a professional lawn care company to determine the cause so you can correct it quickly. Sometimes proper fertilization, irrigation or watering is the solution. Other times a fungicide is necessary.
Related Read: 6 Steps to Fixing Dead Spots in Your Yard
Two Timely Tips for Watering Your Lawn
Here in the Midwest, our lawns need about one inch of water per week. But there’s more to watering your lawn correctly than you may know. First, a good deep watering is worth far more than several light waterings. That’s because deep watering allows the water to soak deeper into the soil encouraging deeper root growth. Light waterings encourage roots to stay closer to the surface which promotes weaker root systems and less drought tolerance. Secondly, because we have lots of clay soil in our area, it’s a good idea to water your lawn a quarter of an inch, stop watering, let it soak in for an hours or so, and water again. This gives the water time to penetrate the clay and make it more receptive to accepting more water. Otherwise, you may lose much of your water to runoff because it just can’t soak in that fast. If you have a sprinkler system, you can set it to water for as long as it takes to penetrate a quarter of an inch and then wait and water that area again. We want to water a half inch each time we water the lawn because that will wet the soil profile the full 8 inches deep that is needed for a healthy root system.
Every sprinkler and sprinkler system is a little different. Different sprinkler heads will deliver different amounts of water. The goal is to water one inch per week. If you’re not sure how much sprinkler time that translates to, here’s an easy way to find out. Put an empty tuna can in your yard in your sprinkler’s path. Turn the sprinkler on for a half hour or so and then check to see how much water is in the bottom of the can. When there is an inch of water, that’s how long you should set your sprinkler for total for the week. You can break that into two sessions of a half inch each if you like.
As far as weeds go, the best thing to do this time of year is spot weed control. Walk your lawn and remove or treat any random weeds you see popping up. In the fall, you can hit your lawn with a weed and feed product that will fertilize and kill weeds simultaneously on a broad scale. But for now, look for dandelions, nutsedge and crabgrass. They love the heat.
Use these tips and if you do see problems, call the lawn care experts at Heritage Lawns & Irrigation and we’ll be there in a jiffy. Call us at (913) 451-4664.