Solving Summer Lawn Problems
By Jodi Torpey
The heat is on in July and that’s when lawns, just like the folks who tend them, start to show signs of stress.
Heat, dry conditions and improper mowing can weaken turf grass so much it can take lawns a year to recover.
Gardeners can’t do anything about July’s high temperatures, but we should try to control all we can when it comes to our lawns.
The best way to solve summer lawn problems is to prevent them in the first place. That means keeping up with watering, making sure the irrigation system is working and mowing according to best practices. Sometimes we need to mow more often by cutting less off the top each time.
But if it’s already too late to prevent lawn problems this summer, here are the top turf issues to keep any eye on:
Cool-season turf grass, like Kentucky blue grass, has the tendency to go dormant in summer when heat is high and moisture is low. The obvious signs are when individual grass blades turn brown and die.
When temperatures cool and moisture starts up again, the grass will start to grow again, too. To avoid this summer dormancy, keep up with watering (according to the watering rules in your city) and use good mowing practices. Leave grass 3 inches tall and remove only 1/3 of grass blades at each mowing.
Dollar spot is a summer turf disease that causes small brown patches of grass. Two ways to prevent dollar spot is to keep fertility high with regular lawn fertilizing and to maintain good soil moisture with about 1.5 inches of water a week.
Unsure how much water your lawn is getting? Set a number of shallow cans around the lawn to measure the amount of water used in the allotted watering time. This simple process helps determine how long you need to water to make sure the lawn receives 1.5 inches each week.
Manage weeds carefully by selecting the correct herbicide for the weeds you need to treat, using the herbicide at the right time, and applying it in the right amount. Read herbicide labels and follow instructions to coordinate with your other turf grass maintenance schedule.
This turf grass disease shows up as dead grass in doughnut-shaped patches. It’s important to manage Necrotic Ring Spot when you see it, because this is a perennial plant disease that will show up again next season. Some of the causes of Necrotic Ring Spot include using too much nitrogen fertilizer and overwatering. There are a number of fungicides on the market that may help to get rid of this fungal disease.
Do yourself and your lawn a favor by keeping it healthy this summer. The easiest way is by reducing the environmental stressors that you control.