The months of June through August always seem to bring some challenging conditions for the lawn care industry. Most of these conditions will present issues that are out of our control. If we maintain proper lawn care practices, we can help our lawns overcome and combat this environmental stress and make it through the summer as healthy as before.
As the temperatures rise, you will see your lawn and landscape begin to cope with this added stress. Most of the lawns in the Wabash Valley are made of cool season grasses. These grasses grow best when temperatures are between 72 and 84 degrees. As the temperatures rise, cool season grasses will slow down in growth or even go dormant. This is one way that nature protects itself against the environment.
Be cautious when mowing your lawn during high heat times. Sometimes, you can damage your lawn and cause striping from the weight of the lawn mower tire tracks if mowed during the hottest part of the day. If this happens, your lawn is under a lot of stress and you should consider irrigation to help the turf recover.
Along with heat stress, we often see lawns go dormant due to lack of water. The turf will display the same signs as in heat stress. Slowed growth and brown foliage are common signs of early drought stress. Areas of your lawn may display this stress more pronounced if there is something under the surface of the soil such as a septic system. Below, you can see an example of how a septic system shows up during times of dry weather.
Turf that is experiencing this kind of stress will recover as proper irrigation is resumed.
Lawns need about 1.5 inches of water each week to maintain health. As water become scarce, your lawn will begin to go into drought stress. If you have an irrigation system installed in your lawn, make sure you set the system to run in the early morning, between 5 AM and 7 AM. Your lawn needs a lot of water so it is best to water infrequently for long periods of time. Every other day for 30-45 minutes will give your lawn a healthy deep root watering. When water is only applied for a short amount of time, it is not encouraging the roots to reach deeper. Poor watering can produce shallow roots and in the long term will greatly impact your turf health.
If you water your lawn at night, you are encouraging turf diseases to set in. As the summer months drag on, we will see high humidity. Night time humidity and improper lawn irrigation is a breeding ground for diseases.
Since turf is made up mostly of water, during these times of high heat and little rain, proper mowing practices are key in ensuring your lawn makes it through the summer. While it may be tempting to mow by your regular schedule from the spring, your lawn may not really need it. Mowing just to mow is never a good habit. When you mow, make sure that you mow no more than 1/3 of the leaf blade at a time. Never mow your lawn below 3 inches in height, especially in these hot conditions.
Mow in different directions every time to ensure that you are not causing more unneeded stressed on the lawn.
If you hire a mowing service, make sure they are following these rules. Beware of some bad business practices. It has been reported that mowing crews will begin to lower the mowing height on their machines when lawns slow down in growth. Do not let a mowing crew on your lawn if the lawn really does not need it.
Over the next few months, we will begin our seeding preparations for the fall. While it may be tempting to throw seed out now, the best time to seed is between August and September. As we get closer to that time, you may begin to consider seeding your lawn. If you decided to seed in the fall, make sure you are prepared with the proper watering expectations. Seed will only germinate if it is watered correctly.
Weed Control and Fertilization
If you are doing your own lawn treatments, be very careful to follow all label instructions of any products that you apply. Many herbicides and fertilizers have temperature restrictions and water requirements. Fertilizers applied improperly during times of severe heat and drought stress may damage the lawn.
The products that we use are manufactured differently than what you can purchase at your local lawn and garden center. Our products have protective coatings that allow for nutrients to be released as soil conditions allow. The slow release component to our products is a huge benefit during the summer months as it allows your turf to take up the nutrients as it needs. Most consumer fertilizers do not have this technology and in the end can hurt your turf.
What have we seen so far this year?
Our season begins in late February and we have been through just about every season of weather so far this year. The spring began colder than usual mixed with consistent rain. This cold weather delayed the weed germination of many common spring time weeds. As soon as the cold left, May was then the hottest May on record. We also experienced a long period of little rain. These conditions started to put lawns into early stages of heat and drought stress. Some turf diseases began to appear in Mid-May as high evening humidity persisted.
As conditions change, so will your lawn. Know that these conditions are usually temporary and with proper cultural practices, your lawn will bounce right back. Many of the issues caused by heat and drought stress will be unnoticed as the weather conditions become more favorable to the turf.
For your peace of mind, here are some important safety guidelines to consider with your Early Spring Lawn Application:
- Please remove the yellow lawn posting 24 hours after the application.
- If a liquid herbicide was applied, please stay off the lawn until the product is dry.
- All of our products are approved and regulated by the EPA and Office of the Indiana State Chemist. We follow all guidelines listed on the label of the products as it is the law. Proper personal protections such as long sleeve shirts, long pants, gloves, and safety glasses must be worn when making an application. If you ever see any technician from any company making an application without any of these pieces of safety equipment, they are breaking the law!
If you ever have any questions about your lawn applications, please call us at our office! Full service customers have free service calls for between treatment spot treatments.