By Donna Fowler
There are three important things to remember when tending your lawn during these “dog days of summer,” when the heat heats up, plus another set of tips as we head into the fall.
During extreme heat, it’s all about the roots:
Don’t cut your lawn too short. This might be the most common mistake homeowners make. When your lawn is cut at the proper height, grass has the chance to develop strong roots, which makes for a more vigorous, stress-tolerant lawn. The different types of grass have different growth habits, so do some research so you’ll know the correct height for your lawn.
Use the one-third rule. Never cut more than one-third of the height of your lawn at one time. If you remove too much at once, the soil isn’t shaded ‒ and shaded soil reduces water evaporation. Less evaporation means stronger roots and less chance for weed seeds to germinate.
Don’t overwater. It’s easy to think that when it’s really hot you need to water, water, water. For instance, people will irrigate their lawn after rain. But when soil is constantly wet, the grass roots are deprived of oxygen and susceptible to diseases that thrive in wet environments. The general rule is that turf grasses do better when kept on the dry, rather than wet side. Watering deep and infrequently is the rule-of-thumb. Do not water every day; your lawn needs only about one-inch of water per week, including rainfall.
In the late summer, lawn height and proper watering remain essential. But here are a couple more things you can do to keep your lawn looking its best:
Treat for pests. Eggs laid by pests like Japanese beetles, European chafers and June bugs hatch into grubs in mid- to late-summer. Check with your local Colorado State University Extension Office for the best time to put down grub control considering the region.
Fertilize. If yours is a cool-season lawn and you didn’t fertilize in the spring, then fall is the time to do it.
Control those weeds. Late summer/early fall is a good time to control existing weeds and prevent any weeds from sprouting. Don’t use a pre-emergent herbicide it you plan to see or over-seed, though.
Happy growing and mowing!