The Heat of Battle
Ways To Keep Your Turf Healthy In The Summer
If the whole year were a sports season, summer is the playoffs. It’s the time when your turf sees the most action, and it needs to be at its best. And just like the playoffs, the stakes are high. But with turf, the high stakes are disease, drought, and overall plant health.
So for a championship-quality lawn or professional turf field, here’s a game plan:
Raise Your Mower Deck
Golf course superintendents and sports turf managers don’t get to have this luxury, but one key to summer turf success is to cut your lawn long. Depending on the species of turf, an ideal length is around three to three and a half inches, depending on grass species. There are several reasons why longer grass is better in the summer.
When you cut your lawn at a higher height, the grass blades will help to shade the soil, keeping it much cooler than a lawn cut too short. This will help your lawn survive the scorching summer heat, hold in the moisture it already has and help prevent weeds from popping up.
As an added benefit, your higher cut lawn will actually look fuller and greener. Most of the green in your lawn is in the blades of grass, so if you chop off most of the blade, you are chopping off most of the green color as well. Just be sure to follow the “rule of one-third” when it comes to mowing. Never remove more than one third of the total blade length at a single cutting.
Ditch The Bag
When you bag up and throw away grass clippings, you’re throwing away valuable nutrients that can still be used. It’s as simple as that. It’s like throwing away your team’s Gatorade and energy bars.
Instead, replace your standard mower blades with mulching blades that carve up the grass clippings small enough to drop down into the canopy of the lawn. They’ll provide nutrients to the turf and soil that will allow you to use less fertilizer and still maintain a great looking lawn.
Develop An Irrigation Plan
This is where people come to the fork in the road. Some choose not to water their lawns, and the grass becomes brown and dormant for the season. That’s not the end of the world, but it’s not ideal either. For the healthiest lawn, you’ll want to water it about an inch per week, which also includes rainfall. So if it rains, make sure to adjust your schedule.
It’s also crucial to water your lawn early in the morning, especially if it’s supposed to be hot that day. You want to give the lawn an opportunity to soak in the water before it evaporates. If you water in the 95-degree midday heat, most of that water is lost to the air, not absorbed by the soil.
Above all else, make a plan and stick to it, adjusting occasionally for Mother Nature. Too little water turns your turf brown, and too much water — especially standing water — can lead to disease.
Watch Out For Diseases
The unfortunate truth is that the pathogens that cause disease are already in your lawn. The good news is that they don’t always attack. Two key disease triggers are heat and water. Those add up to create humidity. When it’s humid, diseases can strike.
Most crippling turf diseases (like Pythium) attack shorter, professional-level grasses, like creeping bentgrass found on golf courses. Grass species used in the majority of home lawns, like Kentucky bluegrass, tend to have a much higher disease tolerance.
If you’re not looking to invest in disease-prevention products, two of the previous tips help you combat pathogens: a good irrigation plan, and cutting the grass long. But you can always take the proactive approach and get some disease control products from LebanonTurf.
Weed Out The Weeds
Weeds often show up in dormant lawns, but they can arrive in nearly any situation. The key is a practical attack. Seek them out and either pull them or spray them.
Weeds cause problems when they hog the nutrients in the soil from your healthy grass, and they compete for real estate. If left unchecked, they can wreak havoc.