Many people have removed their lawns, or part of them for more drought tolerant landscapes. However, many have opted to keep or reduce their lawns. Those who want to enjoy their lush, beautiful lawns during the summer months, require a little work, especially in dryer climates. It’s not as hard as you might think.
The trick is to work smarter, not harder. You’ll get that gorgeous grass, save time and, because healthy lawns use less water, you’ll also be doing your part to conserve this precious resource. Saving water is especially important these days, so if you can do it while enjoying a healthy lawn, it’s a win-win! Read on for some tips for a healthy summer lawn.
Lawns get foot traffic and foot traffic compacts soil. Compacted soil makes it harder for oxygen, water and food to reach your lawn’s roots and that makes for an unhealthy lawn that needs more water. Aerating your lawn is essentially breaking up compacted soil by removing small “plugs.” This is most easily done with a rented gas-powered aerator, but can be done with a manual rolling tool. The best time to aerate is in the fall when the foot traffic is over for the season. Applying gypsum after aerating also helps to open up your soil, making water use more efficient. The granular mineral gets into the holes left by aeration. It also helps your lawn better absorb nutrients.
Getting a Good Drink
The secret to good watering practice is not frequency, but quantity and timing. The average lawn needs about 1″-2″ of water per week. Water such that the soil 4″-5″ below the surface is wet. Your next watering should be when the soil at the top inch or two is dry again. Lawns that are watered deeply grow stronger, deeper roots that are able to find subsurface water on their own, thus further reducing the need for you to water them. Always water in the morning as less water will evaporate and more will go to nourish your lawn. Plus, the grass will be dry before sunset, which reduces the chance of mold and fungus infestations.
Mow, Mow, Mow Your Lawn
But don’t mow it too much! Only cut the top third of the grass. That’s where it’s thinner and the clippings will decompose faster (which feeds your lawn about a third of the nitrogen it needs). Those clippings also reduce evaporation and prevent weeds from sprouting. Other good mowing advice includes:
- Always using a sharp blade. Dull blades damage grass, which causes your lawn to need more water.
- Cut to a height of about 2″, which means waiting until your grass is about 3″ tall. Less mowing, more time for you and a healthier lawn are the benefits.
- Only mow dry grass and in the cooler mornings and evenings. Mowing when it’s too hot stresses your lawn and you.
Feeds and Weeds
Fertilizing and dealing with weeds are important aspects of creating a healthy lawn. Things like type of grass, soil type, weed species and your geographic location play a part, but the basic rules are:
- Feed your lawn in the early spring. This helps it grow strong roots.
- Feed it again in the fall to help it recover from any summer damage and continue to grow roots for winter survival.
- Feed it very lightly throughout the season to keep it healthy and growing.
- Whack those weeds early (both in spring and summer). This keeps them from growing deep, healthy root systems, which compete with your lawn for water and nutrients. It also keeps them from spreading and going to seed.
- When it comes to weeds, a healthy, lush lawn is the best prevention. The weeds won’t have enough room or sunlight to grow!
- As always, we recommend you use an organic lawn food!
So, there you have it! Some quick tips on having a lush, beautiful and healthy lawn all while conserving time, effort and water. Now, get out there and enjoy that lawn!