Summer Mowing, Fertilizing & Watering: Help Your Lawn Beat the Heat
At the heart of successfully creating a beautiful lawn is following mowing, watering and fertilization best practices. Let’s get started by talking about when to cut your grass. Then we’ll discuss the ins and outs of watering your lawn and end with a brief introduction to fertilizers. Fertilization best practices don’t have to be complicated or confusing — we’ll work to clear up any confusion!
Lawn Care: Mowing
During a drought, we want to avoid mowing the lawn as much as possible. In fact, we ideally mow only after it’s rained or it’s been properly irrigated. Mowing can actually cause more harm than good, because grass in a drought isn’t able to recover as nicely as well-watered grass can. At the same time, we don’t want to cut grass that’s too wet, because it can clump.
When you do cut your grass, it’s best to cut it a little higher during the hot spells. This helps shade the soil. Plus longer grass requires less water, because its roots can go deeper into the ground to find their water.
Lawn Care: Watering
Speaking of water, we’re often asked “When is the best time to water my lawn?” Great question. Ideally, we do it in the morning between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. Because less water is less likely to evaporate in the morning, it’s the most efficient use of the water. Watering in the afternoon wastes too much water, as it evaporates more quickly, and watering at night can invite disease. If we water it in the morning, the water dries before nightfall.
The next most often-asked question is “How much water do I need for my lawn?” Another great question. We recommend either half an inch twice a week or one inch weekly. Most lawn grasses need that much through the growing season to stay refreshed.
Like mowing, we want to water our lawns only when we need to — and when we need to, we want to do a thorough job of it. As we said earlier, we want our lawn grass to have long roots. The job of a root is to seek water, so they’ll only grow as deep as they need to in order to find moist soil. The more thoroughly we’ve watered, the deeper the water goes, and the longer the roots grow. Deep roots also help make the grass hardier and more resilient.
Letting the lawn dry in between waterings is important in preventing pests and disease. This is another reason we only want to water once or twice a week.
Lawn Care: Fertilization
When talking about fertilization, it can become overwhelming quickly. How do we know if we need to use fertilizer? One sign is pale, yellow-green grass. That usually means your lawn lacks nitrogen, which is a key fertilizer ingredient.
So we know we need to add some fertilizer, but when is the right time? In general, we recommend fertilizing in the spring. Now the big question: which fertilizer should we use? When choosing which fertilizer to use, we take into consideration your soil and climate.
There are three main fertilizer types, the main difference being how fast the nitrogen penetrates through to the roots:
1. Natural organic fertilizers – manures, composts, and agricultural byproducts
2. Slow-release chemical fertilizers – more concentrated than natural organics, easier to apply and releases slowly.
3. Fast-release fertilizers – one way to make your lawn green quickly. Relatively concentrated, they release faster than the other types. Be careful, however, because spreading too much or spreading it over a damp lawn in warm weather can actually burn the grass.
To know how much to use depends on the specific soil, so testing it is the only true way to know. Most fertilizers contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, in that order. If you look at a fertilizer bag’s label, you’ll see three numbers. These numbers state the ingredient levels. For example, a 100-pound bag labeled 20-0-0 has 20 pounds of nitrogen, zero phosphorus and zero potassium. Most lawns usually need only a quarter as much phosphorus and half as much potassium as they need nitrogen.
Whatever your lawn situation, don’t worry. Call us, and we can take care of it!