Summer Lawn Maintenance Tips

Set your mower as high as feasible. Mowing at 3.5” or higher is the best way to maintain a healthy lawn. On a concrete surface, measure from the concrete to the actual blade tip (not the housing). Or simply use the highest setting for most mowers.

You cannot mow too often. You should mow often enough not to remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade. So if you’re mower is set to 3.5”, you should mow when the turf reaches about 4.5”, preferably earlier. This might require mowing every 4 to 5 days in the spring but every 14 days in the summer. Perennial ryegrass and turf‐type tall fescue grow faster in the spring requiring more frequent mowing than Kentucky bluegrass. Mowing more than 1/3 of the leaf blade robs the plant of long‐term storage products, making it harder for the plant to perform during the summer heat and drought.

Sharpen your mower blade. Sharp blade creates a clean cut which is more attractive and heals faster than that produced by a dull blade. Plus a sharp blade allows the engine to work less, which is better for the environment. Depending on how much you mow, blades should be sharpened almost daily for professional mowers to every other month for home owners.

Return the clippings, period. Catching the clippings requires more time and effort, steals nutrients from the soil, and has no effect on thatch. We might bend on catching the clippings once or twice per year when the spring rains played havoc on your mowing schedule and/or you are using them for mulch around the garden (not if broadleaf herbicides have been applied recently).

Change your mowing patterns to distribute the wear. Most will mow in two directions in consecutive mowing in a checker board pattern. Take it one step farther and mow at 45‐60 degree angles to perpendicular to make the lawn even more attractive.

Turn the irrigation controller off. Leave your control off until there are signs of water stress. One way to quickly assess soil moisture is to push a knife or screwdriver into the soil. Use the controller to manually run the irrigation programs when it is difficult to penetrate several inches into the soil. This is the best lawn watering recommendation and is sure to save money on water.

Water deeply and infrequently. When irrigation is needed, fewer longer cycles are preferred over short and frequent cycles. Generally your lawn needs one inch of water per week during the driest summer months. The best way to determine how much water you are applying to your lawn per irrigation cycle is to place a small tuna can on your lawn as you water. Mark a line one inch from the bottom of the can. As you water the can will fill up. When the water level in the can reaches your mark your lawn has received one inch of water.

Avoid heavy applications of Nitrogen fertilizer in the summer months. Applications of nitrogen in the summer causes Excess growth which increasing frequency of mowing. Excess top growth will consume all stored carbohydrates which translates into poor rooting and inadequate performance in heat and drought stress. Summer nitrogen applications also Increases summer diseases like brown patch in tall fescue.

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