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Keep Your Lawn Lush in the Summer Heat!

Michael Christie

Michael has had the pleasure of calling Guelph home his entire life...

Michael has had the pleasure of calling Guelph home his entire life...

Feb 22 4 minutes read

Keeping your lawn lush through the heat of summer may seem like a never-ending battle. But a few simple tricks will go a long way toward keeping your grass green. Here are 10 tried-and- true tips for a healthy lawn.

Lawn mower logic

1. Stay sharp: Keep your mower blades sharp. A dull blade shreds the grass, causing it to lose more moisture than it would with a clean cut. And the shredded tips will turn brown, making the lawn look dull.

2. Stand tall: Most types of grass prefer to be cut long, so raise your mower blades to a higher setting. A good rule of thumb is not to cut more than one-third of the height. Longer grass encourages longer roots, which can reach down for moisture on hot, dry days.

3. Hang around: If you cut your grass regularly – so that there aren’t huge clumps of clippings – you can simply leave the clippings on the lawn. They’ll act as mulch to help keep roots cooler, will trap moisture, and will break down and provide nutrients to the soil. If you are going to leave your clippings on the lawn, it’s best to use a mulching mower.

4. When in drought: Avoid mowing the lawn when it’s stressed from drought. Stressed lawns are limited in their ability to recover from mowing and can be damaged even more. Instead, mow the grass after a rainfall or after you irrigate. But resist mowing wet grass to avoid clumping.

Food for thought

5. Regular meals: Feed your lawn regularly; that means every 6-8 weeks. A well-fed lawn is thick, which crowds out moisture-sucking weeds, and which helps to keep the soil cool. Cooler soil makes it easier for your lawn to beat the heat. However, if your lawn has gone dormant from a lack of water, wait until rain revives it before feeding.

How about a drink?

6. Less (often) is more: If you are going to water your lawn (which it may need during a prolonged dry spell), it’s better to water less often but more deeply. Frequent, shallow watering results in short roots, causing the grass to stress out during droughts. An inch of water a week is a good guide for keeping your lawn green during the hot summer. To get the roots searching water at a deep level you need to give it a long soak 2-3 times per week, rather than a short, daily soak that will create a shallow root system.

7. Early riser: But be sure to water as early as possible in the morning (before 10 a.m.) to reduce the amount that simply evaporates and to give your lawn time to dry before evening. Watering at night invites disease.

Airing it out

8. Step lightly: Be careful about walking on your lawn. Sure, you want to be able to enjoy it, but walking on a hot, dry lawn just stresses it further. Similarly, walking on a very wet lawn encourages the soil to compact, which can make it more difficult for air to get to the roots.

9. Deep breathing: Speaking of air, your lawn needs to breathe and the best way to do that is to aerate it. An aerated lawn will be better at absorbing water rather than letting it run off. The easiest and cheapest method is to push a garden fork into the ground at 15-centimetre intervals over the entire lawn, although for large areas it may be easier to hire a machine. This is best done in the spring but can be done in mid-summer as long as the grass is not already stressed. The temporary injury that aerating causes can be recovered from quickly only if the grass is already growing vigorously.

The last word

10. Planting a seed, literally: And, finally, if your lawn is prone to heat stress, consider overseeding it in the fall with a grass that can handle heat and drought. Seeding in the fall will give it time to get established before next summer’s first heat wave.

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