If there was one word to describe southern summers, it would be “hot.” When the mercury soars, everything starts to wilt, including people. But that doesn’t mean that you have to settle for your lawn looking less than its best. With a few tricks and some know-how, summer doesn’t have to be synonymous with brown, unattractive grass.
Wondering how you can keep your lawn the envy of your neighbors, without an astronomical water bill? Try these tricks of the trade gathered from a few Houston lawn care experts.
Put Down the Hose
It might seem counterintuitive, but the fastest route to healthy green grass in the summer heat isn’t more water. In fact, overwatering the grass will actually do more harm than good, by limiting the oxygen in the soil and leaving the plants susceptible to disease. In fact, the wetter the grass, the more disease will thrive. Grass generally only needs one inch of water per week to stay healthy, including rainfall, so the rule of thumb is to water infrequently and deeply, rather than a shallow soaking every day.
Lawn experts recommend keeping an eye on your grass and only watering it when it starts to look dry. When it does – even if it’s only part of the lawn – give it a deep soaking and then leave it alone until it’s dry again.
Mowing your lawn is important to keeping your yard looking nice, but if you do it incorrectly, you can actually harm the grass and make it look worse. To keep your grass healthy, only cut the blades of grass by about one-third during hot weather. Cutting the grass too short can put stress on the plants and prevent the roots from growing deep and strong. When the grass is a bit longer, it stays healthier because it has more energy for growth and the lawn itself stays cooler, which contributes to maintaining moisture.
When you mow your grass also makes a difference to the health of your lawn in the summer. If you are in drought conditions, avoid mowing altogether to avoid stressing the grass; if the grass does start to look unkempt, wait until after some rainfall or watering to mow and cut the grass after it dries. Otherwise, the best time to mow the lawn is in the evening. By cutting the grass in the evening it helps retain the moisture better, and also has time to heal overnight without the sun beating on it all day. Avoid the temptation to cut the grass first thing in the morning, as it may still have morning dew that can cause problems. Your cuts may be uneven, and wet grass clumps together and blocks necessary sunlight from reaching the roots.
Finally, keep your mower blades sharp. This ensures that they actually cut, and don’t tear, the blades of grass, which can cause excessive browning. Torn grass is also more susceptible to disease.
Skip the Fertilizer
While you might be tempted to fertilize your lawn during the summer to keep the grass looking green and healthy, it’s generally not a good idea to feed the grass when it’s hot. With cool season grasses in particular, high summer temperatures require more energy than the grasses are able to produce, slowing their growth. Adding fertilizer spurs growth, though, which can tax the plants and require them to use more energy than they have. The result won’t be the thick, green grass you’re hoping for, but rather thin, unhealthy and patchy grass. Instead, wait until cooler temperatures take hold to feed your grass to get the best results.
The same principle applies to any other cultivation activities you might be thinking of. Skip the aerating or overseeding during the summer months if you want them to be effective and maintain the grass you do have. While these activities can help grow a healthy lawn when done in the fall or spring, in the summer they are just going to do more harm than good and damage the roots of the grass.
Taking care of your lawn in the hot summer months is actually a lot easier than you might think. Simply water occasionally, mow when it’s cool, and avoid stressing the grass too much, and it will stay looking great and healthy well into the fall.