The Extreme summer is here – can your existing lawn take the heat?
The Dirty Gardener suggest the following tips for you to maintain a healthy lawn during the extreme heat of the summer months.
Don't cut your lawn TOO SHORT
A very common mistake made by both homeowners and commercial landscape companies is cutting grass too short. This can scalp the lawn and limit the plants ability to produce energy for growth. When grass is cut at the proper height it develops stronger roots supporting vigorous plants that are more tolerant of stress.
Different varieties of grass have different growth habits that directly relate to mowing heights. We sell all of them!!! For example, cool season grass such as ryegrass, fescue, bluegrass and warm season grass like centipede, zoysia and bermuda require somewhat different maintenance techniques. Research which cutting height is right for your lawn.
Do you know the “ONE-THIRD” RULE for mowing Heights?
When deciding on the correct height to cut your grass, it is important to also remember the “one-third” rule: never remove more than one-third of the grass height at one time. By doing so, the lawn is kept cooler because less plant tissue is removed. In fact, cool season grass types actually benefit in the heat of the summer by setting the blade higher. If a lawn is normally cut at 2.5 inches, for example, increasing it to 3 inches in the heat of summer will come with many benefits.
DON'T OVERWATER YOUR LAWN!
Huge confusion about maintaining grass in extreme heat is the necessity to overwater. A general rule to keep in mind is that turf grasses do better managed on the dry side rather than wet; when soil is constantly wet, it creates too many physiological problems for plants and soil organisms alike. The grass roots will be deprived of oxygen and may become more susceptible to disease because diseases thrive in wet conditions. In general, the drier the grass and soil, the less disease there will be.
We use a tuna can. If you fill up a tuna can with your sprinkler system, this is all the water your lawn needs per day during the summer months. Anymore and its wasted.
While it is important to be adequate on hydration, do not water the grass daily. Lawns need only one-inch of water per week, including rainfall.
Water early in the AM, say 5:00 AM after 6:00 PM when temps can be cooler. Don't water in the middle of the day. Its bad for the grass and evaporates.
WHEN IN DROUGHT?
Avoid mowing the lawn during drought stress. Lawns under such stress are limited in their ability to recover from mowing and can be damaged even more. Instead, mow the grass after a rainfall or after irrigation day. Also, resist mowing wet grass to avoid clumping.
KEEP MOWER BLADES SHARP
When grass is cut with a sharp mower blade, the plant will heal faster than when cut with a dull blade. Dull blades will actually tear the plant tissue, not cut it; this torn grass tissue will develop a brown appearance at the surface and may become more susceptible to stress and disease. Sharper blades will prevent a brown appearance and help to prevent further harm to the plant.
DON"T BAG GRASS CLIPPINGS
Return clippings to the lawn by using a mulching mower. Clippings are actually beneficial to the lawn, as they act as a slow-release fertilizer for the plant as they decompose.
FERTILIZING AND CULTIVATION? NOPE
You don't want to do anything during the hot months....Fertilizing stimulates more growth, which consumes even more energy further stressing lawns during periods of high temperatures.
Resist aggressive practices that impose temporary damage during periods of summer heat. Instead, cultivate in fall or spring when the turf is vigorous and can recover quickly from the temporary injury.
2 STEPS TO YEAR AROUND HEALTH
Step one is to maintain year-round health. Grass will tolerate the heat more easily if it is in a healthy state throughout the entire year. Season-long care includes proper fertilization, watering, mowing, and pest control that all help to produce a consistently healthy lawn that is best able to tolerate summer (and other) stresses. In terms of your own health, think of step one as eating right, regular exercise and good sleep to insure your best long-term health.
Step two of the two-pronged approach is to use best management practices during the actual summer stress period – all the things discussed in this article above. Again, in terms of your own health, step two is analogous to the things your doctor prescribes when you are sick to get well in the short-term.
This should hopefully assist you be the envy of your neighborhood. If it does not we can make you a custom mix of Drought Tolerant or Eco Lawn that you don't need to take care of or water much. There are so many alternative lawn ideas that are gaining ground and acceptance all over the country, not just in the Southern states.