28 May Summer Lawn Maintenance Tips
Summer Lawn Maintenance Tips
Now is the time to get outdoors and enjoy the warm summer air! Many of us are excited to socialize with friends and family, swim at the beach or the pool or host a cookout. This is especially true since most of us were quarantining around this time last year. With that being said, it’s important for us lawn care nuts to have our yards in tip-top shape before a bunch of people come over. Here are our most recommended summer care tips for your warm or cool season lawn. Be sure to check out our individual summer maintenance articles for zoysia, St. Augustine, bermuda grass, centipede grass and bluegrass or fescue lawns.
Summer mowing can seem like an exhausting task as temperatures start to get warmer. It can be even harder if you let the lawn get too tall because the lawn mower becomes harder to push. Keep your lawn at its appropriate height to reduce the amount of effort and time spent in the hot sun. Never remove more than a third of the leaf blade at a time. If a larger amount is removed, the grass will stress and potentially turn brown for a short period of time. Select your grass type on our care page and find out what mowing height your type of grass requires during the summer time.
If you are returning from a summer vacation, you may have to mow multiple times to get the grass back to its desired height. Be sure to wait about 3–5 days between each mowing. One benefit of taller grass blades is that they provide more shade for the root system to stay cool and retain moisture during the hot summer days.
If you want to reduce the amount of time spent outside mowing your lawn as much as possible, check out our blog on Strategies for Reduced Mowing Inputs During the Summer.
With rising outdoor temperatures comes increased soil temperatures and changing soil conditions. Your grass needs different nutrients at this time compared to what it needed in the spring or fall. The lawn will more than likely endure some form of stress from the summer heat. It’s important to feed the grass with the appropriate amount of nutrients to help out with this stressful period.
Grass requires less nitrogen in the summer than it would in the spring when it’s coming out of dormancy and trying to green up. Nitrogen promotes new growth, which will not survive in the heat of the summer. The wrong fertilizer combined with excess sunlight during the summer can easily cause scorched spots in your yard. Sod University recommends two different fertilizer options for the summer. You will only need to use one of the two options for summer fertilization. Using both at the same time may result in burns in your lawn.
The LawnifiTM Summer Fertilizer Box is a liquid fertilizer program designed to give lawns the nutrients they need to survive and flourish during the hot summer months. With one bottle of Maintain and two bottles of Recover, the Summer Fertilizer Box’s application schedule will give your lawn nutrition all summer long. Maintain’s 16-0-4 formulation works to fortify your lawn with potassium, amino acids and carbon. Recover’s 13-0-0 formulation was created to provide the optimal balance of nutrients to lawns as temperatures start to rise. In addition to nitrogen, Recover delivers critical micronutrients like soluble manganese, iron, sulfur and carbon, which help your lawn get through the dog days of summer. Each bottle of Lawnifi easily hooks right up to the end of your garden hose for an even spray application.
Lawnifi Foundation is a granular fertilizer option that comes in a 25 pound bag and feeds for three months. With a 29-0-5 NPK formulation, Lawnifi Foundation is the perfect granular fertilizer for lawns and gardens. The two percent iron included in Lawnifi Foundation’s mixture helps plants carry oxygen throughout the leaves, roots and other parts of the plant to promote a green, healthy lawn. Featuring slow-release nitrogen, Foundation gradually feeds your lawn over an extended period of time without overwhelming your lawn with nitrogen during the summer. Both Lawnifi Foundation and the Summer Fertilizer Box cover 5,000 sq. ft. Learn more in Granular vs. Liquid Fertilizers or by clicking on the two products below. For more generic information about the Lawnifi brand, read Why Use Lawnifi Fertilizer?.
With warmer temperatures and more sunlight, it can become tempting to water your lawn more often to make sure it’s hydrated. This is not always recommended as waterlogged soils in warm climates are ideal environments for disease outbreaks. Despite the hot temperatures that occur during the summer, the lawn should only need about one inch of water on a weekly basis including rainfall. This is best accomplished with one or two waterings a week. Water in the early mornings for longer periods of time, less frequently and take any rainfall into consideration. Watering your lawn in the early morning decreases the dew period. As a result, this also decreases the amount of time the grass blades are wet, which is a helpful disease management practice. If you aren’t sure how to measure one inch of water, consider conducting an easy irrigation audit. If the lawn seems to become too warm or starts accumulating scorched, brown spots, consider adding a layer of top dressing to keep it shaded and cool. Read more about this in How to Top Dress Your Lawn with Compost.
Summer Weed Control
It is advised that you don’t make applications of any herbicides at this time as summer is the worst time for herbicide applications on both warm and cool season grasses. When temperatures reach or exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit, herbicides will damage your grass. It’s best to wait until it gets cooler before applying a post-emergent herbicide to any weeds in your yard. In the future, apply a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring to reduce summer weeds and be sure to apply a pre-emergent herbicide in the fall to keep fall and winter weeds out. Learn more about the timing for herbicide applications in The Best and Worst Times for Herbicide Applications.
Another approach to summer weed control, however, is to hand-pull or dig up the weeds. You can also spot-treat them with a non-selective herbicide like glyphosate or other non-selective alternatives. Be careful though—non-selective herbicides will kill any plant it comes in contact with whereas a selective herbicide, as its name suggests, will kill off certain types of weeds it’s labeled to treat. Glyphosate and other non-selective herbicides will kill any vegetation it comes in contact with…this includes your grass.
A few common weeds you might see during the summer are knotweed, spurge, lespedeza, crabgrass, goosegrass, dallisgrass, nutsedge and sandbur depending on your grass type. If temperatures are below 85 degrees, it is safe to apply post-emergent herbicides for any summer annual and perennial weeds. However, we suggest waiting until it gets closer to the fall season. If temperatures are low one day and exceed 85 degrees in the following days, the grass is still vulnerable to damage from the herbicide. Be sure to read herbicide labels thoroughly before application.
Pictured above from left to right: Knotweed, spurge, lespedeza and crabgrass.
Pictured above from left to right: Goosegrass, dallisgrass, nutsedge and sandbur.
- Coverage: One bottle covers 5,000 sq. ft.
- Active Ingredient(s): 2,4-D, Dimethylamine salt 3.74%, Quinclorac 1.79%, Dicamba, dimethylamine salt 0.43%, Sulfentrazone 0.22%.
- Ease of Use: Hooks up to the end of your garden hose for even spray application.
- Best Used On/For: General outdoor weed control and crabgrass.
- Coverage: One gallon covers between 71,000–171,000 sq. ft.
- Active Ingredient(s): 2, 4-D, 2-ethylhexyl ester 9.02%, Dichlorprop-p, 2-Ethylhexyl ester 5.19%, Dicamba acid 0.59%, Carfentrazone-ethyl 0.47 %.
- Ease of Use: Requires tank mixing and application with sprayer.
- Best Used On/For: Broadleaf control in established grasses.
Summer Insect Control
This time of year is the absolute worst time for insect invasions. Bugs like fire ants or mosquitos aren’t the only ones to watch out for—there are a lot of insects that can cause severe damage to your lawn. Some of the most common summer insects include chinch bugs, grub worms, mole crickets, billbugs, spittlebugs and nematodes.
Pictured above from left to right: A chinch bug, grub worm and mole cricket.
Pictured above from left to right: A billbug, spittlebug and nematode.
Symptoms of an insect invasion differs from insect to insect. For example, signs of a chinch bug infestation include a spotty pattern of patchy grass that almost looks like drought damage. A common way to identify a grub worm problem, on the other hand, is by seeing an increase in burrowing mammals, like moles, that are feeding on them. You can also dig a little in your lawn and spot them that way. June is about the time to apply a preventative insecticide for grub worms because the adult beetles start flying around and drop eggs at this time. Apply a systemic insecticide like Merit 0.5G to prevent grub worms. If you notice grub worms in your lawn, Scotts GrubEx or Dylox 6.2 can be applied as a curative treatment.
A mole cricket infestation can be identified by their tunnels which push up soil and grass, as well as the presence of brown and dying grass due to mole cricket feeding habits. Billbugs and spittlebugs can be a problem in lawns during the summer as well. Signs of a billbug infestation can often be confused with drought or poor irrigation. Rule out poor irrigation by conducting the “tug” test. Pull up from the middle section of the damaged grass and be sure to grab as much grass blade as possible. You should be pulling from the base of the grass blades. If it comes up very easily, that is a sign of billbug damage.
Spittlebugs are easy to spot because they’re usually hopping around the yard. Walk through the yard to disturb them and see if you can spot any jumping around. Another big sign of spittlebugs is noticing a white, frothy substance in the blades of grass or on garden ornamentals. These look like masses of sticky bubbles that are produced by spittlebug nymphs hiding from other predators. Nematodes can be a little tricky to spot because they are located below the soil in the roots and they are microscopic. Signs included stunted plant growth, premature wilting and the yellowing of leaf blades (chlorosis).
Some of the insect control products listed below are labeled to treat these common insects. Be sure to read the label thoroughly before application. Learn more about different types of lawn insects in Insect Identification.
Summer Fungus Control
Disease outbreaks in warm season lawns like zoysia, St. Augustine, bermuda grass or centipedegrass are pretty uncommon at this time. They can still happen though—especially if you overwater your lawn during the summer. St. Augustine is prone to grey leaf spot and large (brown) patch at this time. Cool season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue, are prone to diseases at this time.
Although certain chemical solutions found in fungicides have the ability to cure lawn disease, there are a few cultural methods you can perform to keep disease outbreaks from occurring beforehand. These cultural methods are found in common maintenance practices for your grass type. Overtime, they promote a healthy lawn that can withstand stressors and fight off things like insects or disease.
However, there are a few recommended disease control products we’ve listed below. Be sure to read the label thoroughly before application. You can learn more about these diseases in Identifying Common Lawn Diseases.
- Coverage: One bottle covers 2,500 sq. ft.
- Active Ingredients(s): Propiconazole 1.45% and Lamda-cyhalothrin 0.08%.
- Ease of Use: Hooks up to your garden hose for an even spray application.
- Best Used On/For: Outdoor topical/contact fungus and general insect control.
Summer maintenance tips for your lawn are mostly about keeping your lawn healthy and stress-free during the hot summer temperatures. Be sure to refer to our maintenance guides for your specific grass type. Keeping your lawn healthy during the summer will help it continue to thrive when temperatures eventually cool down and we enter into the fall season. We will see you back here in the fall for our updated fall lawn maintenance tips.
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