This time of year is one of the toughest seasons for turf in our area. With high temperatures, dry conditions, and high humidity, we have a wide array of issues to consider. The most difficult aspect of this season is that much of the proper care needed for your lawn is your responsibility. That’s right… we are asking for your help to keep your lawn healthy and green this summer. Here are some priorities to remember for the late summer season in our area:
Chinch Bug – Throughout the hot and dry summer months, chinch bugs feed off the lawn tissue and kill the grass by injecting a toxic fluid as they feed. They can damage lawns more if the grass is in rough shape from lack of moisture of poor maintenance practices. A healthy, strong lawn can withstand some chinch bug damage. In majority of the cases, small populations of the bug can be present without showing visible damage. Lawn areas that are too dry are particularly prone to damage from the pests. Proper watering, mowing, fertilizing, and maintenance are key’s to improving your lawn’s health and increasing the tolerance to chinch bug damage. The best course of action to take this time of year to prevent chinch bug damage, and spreading to other lawn areas is proper watering and mowing practices as discussed below.
Heat/Drought – With higher temperatures and a lack of rain, your lawn can take a beating. This means that a lack of moisture can cause your grass to turn brown. Initially this brown color indicates that the turf has gone dormant. It is a defense mechanism the plant uses to protect itself from heat and drought. However, it can only stay dormant for so long before the plant dies. Watering is the only way that you can stop dormancy and prevent death. There are two methods of watering that accomplish two different purposes. You can water once or twice a week for several hours to prevent the grass from dying. This will likely not bring it out of dormancy, but will keep plants alive and maintain a deep root system. However, if you want your lawn to stay green you need to water more often. Many people water daily for 30 to 60 minutes. Be aware that this creates a shallow root system. Once you start watering this way, you need to keep it up until it cools off and starts raining again. With high temperatures and regular watering, fungus can become an issue. The worst time of day to water is evening as the water will sit on the grass blades and allow fungus to grow. Midday is alright for watering, but much of the water evaporates defeating the purpose. The best time of day to water is 6am to 9am so water can be absorbed by the plant before it can evaporate in the middle of the day.
Mowing – When turf is already under stress from high temperatures and drought, the worst thing you can do is cut off too much of the plant. You should never remove more than 1/3 of the length of a grass plant, but long turf is especially important in the late summer. It shades the ground allowing soil to retain more moisture. This shade also prevents weeds from taking over. You should keep the length of your mowed lawn between three inches and four inches throughout the rest of the summer. You should also ensure that your mower blade is very sharp. A dull mower blade will tear the blades of grass instead of giving you a clean cut. These tears allow fungus to get started more easily.
If we can work together to keep your grass happy and healthy, the turf will be thick and green as we leave the summer months. Please help us make that happen.