You spend all Spring long feeding, weeding, seeding, and watering your lawn so that it would look great all Summer long. Well Summer is here. You have friends over for parties and cookouts… but the lawn is just not looking quite as good as it did a month ago. That’s stress and it happens when the weather stays so consistently hot, it’s normal. We just have to make sure we do the little things now to make sure all that hard work isn’t for not. It’s no different that working out and dieting all spring for the summer than deciding after memorial weekend at the beach to stop eating right and exercising. Having the best lawn in your neighborhood is a year round job, the good news is summer really takes the least amount of work.
If there was one thing that even the most meticulous do-it-yourselfer often does wrong, it’s mow their lawn. It’s most important to mow properly in the hot summer months, as your lawn is stressed or even dormant. Here are some summer mowing tips.
Raise the height of your mower ½ in to an inch. It’s too dry to mow your lawn low to the ground. The taller grass will also provide insulation from the heat, and prevents water evaporation.
Sharpen your blades, you’ve been mowing a lot this year already. Dull blades will rip the blades and shred them instead of making a clean cut, causing added stress and can cause lawn disease. I can promise you that it will make a world of difference to the health and look of your lawn.
I can’t stress this enough, never take more than 1/3 of the blade off when you cut your grass. It cuts out the green, food producing cells and stunts new growth.
Mow in different directions, mowing the same direction causes your lawn to bend. You should try and mow in 4 different directions and alternate it every time.
If you have a healthy lawn, do not bag your clippings. The clippings will put nutrients back into your lawn. The only reason to bag your clippings, are if you have a lawn disease and are trying to prevent it from spreading.
Honestly if you lawn is healthy now, mowing and watering properly are the two most important things you can do to maintain that health. We have an article on the site already about the importance of proper watering but I still want to touch on a few reminders.
Water 1 inch a week, if you get 1 inch of rain in a week than you don’t have to water.
Water deeply to promote deep root growth, this will make your lawn more tolerant to drought. If you aren’t watering long enough it create conditions conducive for weeds to thrive.
Water early in the mornings, do not water in the evenings. Watering in the evenings allows the water to sit on the grass for too long and can cause lawn disease and fungus.
Pay attention to your lawn, if it is turning a darker green or almost blue in the afternoons it needs more water. If it crunches under your feet and doesn’t bounce back, you need to water more. Walk the lawn and turn around if you can see all your foot prints that is a good indication that it’s under watered.
Grubs are the larvae of a few pests most commonly – Japanese beetles, June beetles, and chafers. They are some of the most destructive lawn pests you will ever come across. I have seen them absolutely devastate some of the nicest lawns that I have ever treated and worked on. Grubs feed on the root system of your grass, basically detaching the blade and the grass from the root system. If you have brown patches of grass that you can literally lift up and peel back like a carpet, you have grubs. I am a 100% believer in being proactive with grub control instead of reactive. I don’t understand the idea of waiting to see the signs of grub damage and than treating. You put all this time and money into your lawn, why take a chance of allowing grubs to destroy any or all of that?
It depends on your region but applying a grub preventative like Merit is usually most effective soon after the grubs hatch and are easiest to control. In the Northeast that is usually in late June to mid-July, although the abnormally cold winter in many areas has pushed the time-frame back this year. Contact your state university agriculture program if you have questions for your region.
Always make sure to water in your application thoroughly. We want to make sure it gets down to where the grubs are feeding.
Mow your lawn before you make your application, this will allow it do get down into the soil easier, especially if it’s a granular application.
If you are going to play the wait and see game, which I highly disagree with than regularly pulling small areas of your lawn to inspect for grubs is key. It’s just like replacing a divot if you pat it back down and water the area you pull back it will take hold again.
If you have skunks, crows, and moles in your lawn feeding, there is a good chance they are feeding on grubs. It won’t be hard to tell even if they are feeding at night, your lawn will look like a war zone.
I do not recommend a bacterial milky disease application to prevent grub damage. It only works with Japanese beetles and it takes a very long time to establish in your lawn. I just have not seen very good results with this application.
Other quick tips
Do not fertilize your lawn to give it a quick kick when it’s stressed, you will burn it out.
Keep an eye out for summer disease like dollar spot, patch, and powdery mildew.
Post emergent herbicides are okay if you have had some rain to control weeds. If the lawn is really stressed you are better off hand pulling.