Gardening with Laurie: Lawn care in summer

By Laurie Brown
Reader Columnist

This is the time of year when the lawn gets a work out ­— kids and dogs playing on it, having the grill out and people standing around, and having lawn furniture sitting on it. It’s also time to take care of it a little bit. 

Hopefully you fertilized the lawn early in the year, before it got hot. If you didn’t, it’s best to wait until fall, when the weather cools off. The lawn will still be growing them, and putting away energy for the winter. Also, don’t use herbicides on the lawn in hot weather. While things like Weed & Feed are designed to kill only broadleaf plants, in hot, dry weather they can harm the grass, too. If you’re concerned with weeds in summer, hand dig them out. All the lawn wants right now is water.

Most lawns will need about one inch of water a week. One inch of water doesn’t mean the soil is wet to the depth of one inch; in sandy soils, one inch of water will wet it quite deep, while in heavy soils it will stay nearer the surface. More than this amount is unnecessary; while you want the water to go fairly deep so the roots will extend down, grass plants are fairly shallow rooted plants no matter how much water they get. The best time to water is early in the morning; the water can soak in before the day gets hot, and the grass will be dry when night comes, minimizing the chance of fungal diseases getting a foothold.

Set your lawn mower blade fairly high. Taller grass is healthier grass; the taller blades of grass shade the soil so water doesn’t evaporate as fast and the grass develops deeper roots when the top is long. And even though it’s a pain, mow often rather than putting it off as cutting a lot off at once stresses the plant. Thankfully the lawn growth slows down in hot weather!

Mid-summer isn’t a good time to seed a new lawn. It won’t do nearly as well as if you seed in spring or fall. You’ll be watering constantly to keep it from drying out, and drying out is fatal to seedlings.

Things sitting on the grass is a big enemy of the lawn. The grass will turn yellow after a few days of anything sitting on it. Move chairs and the grill around every few days. Kiddy pools are the hardest things to deal with. They will kill a large area instead of just small spots. Try to move it to a new spot every time you refill it. Even if you only have a couple of spots where the pool will fit, try and alternate where it sits. Be careful of using bleach in the water; it’ll burn the grass when you empty the pool onto the lawn.

Thankfully the lawn doesn’t need much in summer. That makes me very happy.

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