Summer Lawn Recovery
Summer poses many challenges to your lawn. Excessive heat, lack of rainfall, heavy traffic from BBQ’s and other activities, bugs, and disease all collaborate to menace your grass. Taking precautions over the summer months will limit the toll on your yard’s health, but even the best kept lawns need to recover from summer. Fall is a critical time of growth for cool-season lawns and now is the time to get to work.
Read more to understand what happens to lawns in the summer and how to get your grass back to tip top shape.
Idaho lawns during the summer are a lot like Idahoans all year long: they hate traffic. Summer is the prime time for barbeques, neighborhood gatherings, slip-n-slides, bounce houses, and other turf trampling activities in the sun. When combined with other sources of stress, heavy traffic can really harm your yard’s health. If you walk through your grass and your footprints stay in the grass for longer than usual, your grass is stressed.
Solution: Give your lawn a break, especially in highly stressed areas. Monitor your sprinkler schedule and make sure your lawn is receiving adequate irrigation. Aerating your lawn in the spring or fall will reduce soil compaction frequently caused by heavy traffic.
Heat can cause damage to any plant, your lawn is no exception. Cool-season grasses may enter dormancy as a survival mechanism during peak summer temperatures. While dormant grass does not look as appealing there is no cause for concern. The resilient grass will bounce back when the temperatures drop and adequate irrigation returns.
But watch out, if the crown of the plant dries out completely it can send your grass to the big yard in the sky.
Solution: If your lawn has gone into dormancy, do not feed your lawn any fertilizer. Fertilize in September or October when soil temperature drops and the plants come out of dormancy. Limit traffic and make sure you give it enough irrigation to prevent the crown from drying out. Overseeding in the fall will help fill in any patches where excessive heat caused the grass plant to die.
Weeds compete with your grass for space, water, sunlight, and nutrients. During summer stress, weeds can take advantage of the weakened grass plants and begin to gain ground in your lawn.
Solution: Give your yard the upper hand by pulling weeds making sure you get as much of the root as possible. You can also apply a grass-safe selective herbicide like Q4 to eradicate the weeds and make way for your turf (available in our Weed Annihilation Kit). Depending on the size of the weed you may end up with some bare patches in the lawn. Agin, this is where overseeding in the fall will help fill in the gaps.
Lawn diseases can creep up at any time during the growing season, but it’s important to keep an eye on your yard when it is most susceptible. Proper care and maintenance works as a preventative for diseases, but despite your best efforts anything from summer patch to fairy ring to dollar spot can still show up in your beautiful yard.
Solution: Irrigating in the mornings or mid-day will help prevent conditions that allow disease to creep in. Mow your grass a little taller and ensure your blade is sharp for a clean cut. Otherwise you will create pathways for disease to enter your grass plants. If disease gets bad enough you may want to consider a fungicide. Typically with a little time and maintenance the disease will go away and your money will be better spent patching up the dead areas.
If you have brown, unhealthy looking grass not caused by disease, pesky pests may be the culprit. Try tugging a tuft of the grass up - if the sod lifts from the soil easily it’s likely you have grubs. These are the larvae of beetles and can cause extensive damage by burrowing beneath your lawn.
Solution: Hit them with an insecticide treatment fast before the soil cools down and the bugs retreat deeper down into the soil. We offer a fertilizer/insecticide combination product available in 50 lbs bags that will cover over 14,000 sq. ft. Contact us for more information.
Guide Your Lawn Into Fall
As we head into cooler weather and the key growing season for your Idaho lawn, here are a few items to keep in mind to set your yard up for success:
- Mow high and with a sharp blade to prevent disease. Cool-season grasses should be at least 2 ½ to 3 inches tall depending on species.
- Irrigate in the mornings to prevent damp overnight conditions which lead to fungus and disease.
- Keep the pressure on weeds so they cannot take advantage of your stressed lawn and gain a foothold.
- Limit traffic on stressed and compacted areas of your yard. Aerate in mid September or early October to alleviate soil compaction.
- Consider overseeding in the fall to help fill in your yard and repair any patches left by weeds or disease. Mow your grass a bit shorter than usual, aerate, and rake your lawn prior to overseeding to ensure more seed to soil contact.
- Keep up on your lawn’s nutritional needs with a high-quality fertilizer program. A healthy, well fed lawn with a proper balance of nutrients is better equipped to deal with stress, disease, and poor environmental conditions.
(see also: Fall Yard Tips for Cool Season Lawns)
Soil compaction can occur in high traffic areas. Aerating in the spring and fall limit the impact of compaction.
Brown patches can appear where you have pulled or killed weeds. Keep your grass well fed and overseed in the fall so grass fills in these spots.
If you pull on the grass and the sod lifts easily, you likely have a bug issue. Apply a pesticide and water it into the root zone to take care of the pests.