The month of May has been very dry in the Seattle area. If it doesn’t rain by May 31, we will tie 1992 for the driest May on record, with only 0.12 inches of rain. Perhaps summer has arrived here early.
Here are some summer lawn care tips. Follow these tips to help your lawn stay healthy and perform well during the hot, dry season.
Water your lawn to reduce weed and insect problems
If you have weeds in your lawn and you cannot stand it, the worst action you can take is to let your lawn go dormant. During summer, weed seeds blow in.
Dandelions, false dandelions, clover, oxalis, plantain and many other weeds like the hot dry weather. They are still functioning, putting out more roots and producing more seeds while our lawns are quiet. If you have weeds and you let your lawn go dormant, you will always have weeds.
Summer lawn care should include getting out the sprinkler. If you don’t water your lawn at all in summer, it will become thin and unhealthy. And you will have bare spots where it has died out. All dormant areas are ripe for weeds to get established and take over when rains return in the fall.
Likewise, if your lawn has been invaded by insects such as crane flies or chafer beetles, you need to continue regular watering, at least an inch a week. Keeping your lawn green and healthy will help it outgrow any insect damage.
Water one inch
One inch of water each week will keep the lawn growing and healthy. It is much better to water your lawn once or twice a week rather than daily. This will encourage it to grow deeper roots, making it more resilient. The shorter the roots in the lawn, the quicker the lawn will go into a dormant state at the first signs of dry weather.
You may be able to reduce watering in areas of the lawn that don’t see much traffic. But you still need to water your lawn occasionally to keep it alive. Your lawn will need an inch of water at least once a month to provide some resiliency for the plants.
Here is a short video about how to measure one inch of water from your sprinkler.
Mow your lawn taller
Lawns will perform better in summer if they are mowed taller. Three inches tall is the most beneficial height during hot summer months.
The taller grass shades the soil. This reduces evaporation and makes it more difficult for weeds to work their way to the sunlight. It also allows plenty of leaf blade to perform photosynthesis, keeping the lawn healthy.
Healthy lawn means less water, fewer weeds
Your lawn will look better in summer if you have taken steps earlier in the growing season to improve its health.
A lawn will need less water in summer if the soil system is healthy. If roots are growing deeply into the soil, it does not take a lot of water to keep a lawn growing.
A healthy, thick, vigorous lawn is the number one weed control strategy for a natural lawn. Letting a healthy lawn outcompete the weeds is how Mother Nature works. But only if your lawn is a living, thriving weed barrier.
Keeping your lawn healthy
To keep a lawn healthy, you need to feed it a few times during the growing season with an organic, slow-release fertilizer. Organic fertilizers feed your lawn slowly over time. They also add organic matter to the soil. This increases the soil’s biological activity and builds soil health.
Mulch mowing and top dressing with compost also add organic matter and nutrients to the soil. Mulch mowing can reduce fertilizer needs by as much as 25 percent.
Mechanical aeration is also helpful to reduce soil compaction and allow air an water to reach the root zone. Aeration stimulates root growth and improves the uptake of fertilizer and water. It makes your lawn more tolerant of heat and drought stress. Spring and fall are the best times to aerate a lawn.
After aeration, overseed the lawn to fill in thin spots. This thickens the lawn, so weeds and moss have a difficult time getting established.
If you are an In Harmony lawn care client, we have fed your lawn a few times this year, and we may have aerated and overseeded it. If you are not a client and would like your lawn to be healthier and more attractive, contact us for a free quotation.