We hope that you all have enjoyed some time off this Memorial Day weekend! For us, we are busy getting ready for the upcoming months and the challenges that come with the summer months, so it's been nice to take a deep breath before we dive back down into the thick of the upcoming fungus and insect season.
So, Memorial Day is one of the key holidays for lawn care. It marks the beginning of the end of our spring, and serves as a warning for the problems we will soon be facing during the summer months. Don't worry though, we are sure that you've been paying attention to and applying all of the proper lawn maintenance techniques we've been talking about, and the summer won't be a problem for you at all.....RIGHT? If not, we understand. Things tend to get a little trickier from this point forward and a little less forgiving in the months to come. With that, we will spend a little time polishing up and refreshing you on what you should be doing with your lawns at this point in the season.
Arguably the most important practice to perfect in maintaining a picture perfect lawn, is mastering your watering habits. With the summer coming, we will need to start paying closer attention to our watering start times, the amount of watering we are applying, and ensuring we have adequate coverage throughout the lawn. So, for those of you with an automatic sprinkler clock, now is a great time to adjust your timer to water between 1:00 a.m and 4:00 a.m if possible, or between 10:00 a.m and 5:00 p.m. We want to avoid watering as the sun is coming up and watering when the sun is going down. By doing so, we reduce the amount of time that the grass remains wet, which in turn, helps to eliminate the possibility of promoting fungus! Many of us tend to overwater in the
summer as we react to areas in our lawn turning brown, but often times, the browning is a result of brown patch fungus, and watering just makes it worse! So, in the absence of rain, we still want to water 2-3 times a week at the most, trying to maintain an average of 1.5 inches of water per week. Again, the amount of water really depends on the environmental conditions, so the best way to tell if you need more water is by probing into the soil with a long screw driver to test for good soil moisture, typically we want the soil to moist about 6 inches down if possible.
2. MOWING HEIGHT
Besides proper irrigation, the next most important practice to get in the habit of doing, is ensuring that your mower is set to 3.5 - 4 inches for cool season grass, going into the summer. Mowing the turf a little higher helps keep the soil temperatures lower, helps combat weed pressure, and creates an overall healthier stand of grass. Typically, when we mow taller, our turf will reward us with a darker green color as shown in the lawn on the left in the picture below. It will be more likely to withstand the
environmental stresses of the summer and combat potential fungus outbreaks. When we mow cool season grass too short in the summer, we compromise the overall health of the grass and can potentially cause plant death as a result. The grass has an extremely difficult time recovering from significant damage in the summer, as the roots are unable to keep up with the healing process until the cooler temperatures of the fall arrive. So mowing taller going into the summer is key to the success of your grass for the next several months!
3. GRUB PREVENTION
There's nothing like the frustration of your lawn declining after all of the hard work that you've put into it! It can be difficult to diagnose what the problem is.
Often times, fungus can look like grub damage, and grub damage can look like a lack of water, so pinpointing the problem is key. We don't always think about grub prevention until it is too late. For those who don't know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Late May to the middle of July is the ideal time to get your grub prevention down. Preventing grubs in your lawn this summer, prevents the possibility of having the headache of paying for and reseeding the damaged areas. Plus, getting rid of the mature grubs is much more difficult and expensive than preventing them!
OKAY! So now that you have a better understanding of what to do this summer, you won't have any problems with your turf and your lawns will look fantastic all summer long! Well, we wish it was really that easy, but, more than likely, your lawn will have some flaws, even if you follow these tips perfectly. The fact of the matter is, we are trying to get a cool season lawn to thrive in the middle of the summer when the soil temperatures are not ideal for healthy cool season turf grass. BUT.....we do promise, that if you follow these tips, 1) watering properly, 2) mowing properly, and 3) preventing insects and grubs in your lawn, you will give your lawn the best chance to be the envy of all of the lawns in your neighborhood!