Dealing with the dog days of summer
The calendar may say August, but for your lawn the sultry dog days of summer are just getting started. Here are four tips for help your turf withstand the hottest days of the year.
Start mowing your lawn a little higher. Longer grass blades help to shade the soil and preserve its moisture. Gradually raise your mower’s cutting height by about 25 to 50 percent from now through the end of summer.
- Mow more often. Follow the golden rule of lawn mowing: Never remove more than one-third of the grass blade at a time. Your lawn’s roots will grow deeper, where they’ll have easier access to water. Mow when it’s cool so the moisture from within the freshly cut blades doesn’t evaporate.
- Postpone fertilizer and weed control applications. You want to minimize new growth because it is more delicate and less able to tolerate the heat. Weed killers can stress and weaken your grass.
Deep water during the coolest hours of the day.* Most lawns only need about an inch of water each week. Frequent, light sprinklings may result in shallow roots. When the summer heat dries the soil, shallow roots also get dry. To keep this from happening, water less frequently, and soak the soil deeply. Water early in the morning or late at night to limit evaporation.
When fall arrives, ease back into your regular lawn maintenance routine. Gradually lower the mower blade height. If your grass is stressed, give it time to re-establish its health before resuming your weed control and fertilizer schedule.
The dog days of summer can be hot and miserable. While you’re protecting your lawn, also remember to protect yourself. Stay hydrated. Wear sunscreen. And escape indoors now and then to soak up the air conditioning.
*If you live in an area covered by water restrictions, use most of your water supply on the high-traffic areas of your lawn. Attempting to use a limited amount of water to keep your entire lawn green can be frustrating and may weaken your lawn’s health. In most cases, you can allow your lawn to go dormant during the summer, then revive it in the fall when temperatures are cooler.