Caring for Your Lawn in the Summer Heat
Posted: July 10, 2012
Fertilizing, feeding, weeding, mowing, and more is part chore and part enjoyment. Conversely, it is discouraging to see your lawn browning despite your best efforts. So what is a homeowner to do when good lawns go bad?
First you should determine the cause. Factors in turf deterioration might be tree root competition, soil compaction, excessive shade, and the wrong type of grass planted. Obvious right now is the lack of rain and high heat. The best thing for the grass in times like these is to do nothing. And here are a few more tips to help your lawn though the dry spells.
Walk on it as little as possible. Don’t play on it. Don’t fertilize it either. Find something else to do around your yard. Most turf grasses suited for this area undergo a dormancy when it is hot and dry. It is not recommended to water the lawn. Water restrictions may be put in place, plus imprecise watering can lead to weakened plants, pests, and lessening the ability to recover.
Mow high and less frequently, all season long. Taller grass blades shade the root system and crowd out weeds. Never remove more than one third of the plant when you mow. Keep your equipment in top shape. If you have used your mower more than about eight hours, sharpen the blades. Otherwise the mower will tear the grass causing browning, and leading to diseases. Lawns mowed with dull blades use thirty per cent more water.
Leave the clippings. Nature and earthworms will incorporate the cut grass into the soil. They break down quickly helping both drainage and moisture retention.
Remember, when your pet needs a pit stop, help them find another place to go. This time of year the salt in a dog’s urine can damage the grass.
Home lawns represent 70 percent of Pennsylvania's 2,000,000 acres of turfgrass. Lawns increase the property value of homes, stabilize soils, and give us something to do early Saturday mornings. Studies have shown as little as a quarter inch of rain in three weeks time is enough for the grass to survive. By managing it year-round, and protecting it during the vulnerable times, you can enjoy your lawn for years to come.
For more information on lawn care, the Penn State Master Gardeners in Lackawanna County have the publications Lawn Management Through the Seasons and Renovation of Lawns.
Please contact us at 570-963-6842 or LackawannaMG@psu.edu to request a copy.
Master Gardener Coordinator
Penn State Cooperative Extension in Lackawanna County