We’re at the height of summer heat and some lawns are showing the stress. It’s important to pay attention to two important de-stressors: cutting height and water.
Too short a cut and turf dries out quickly causing it to go dormant and creates a great environment for opportunists like dandelion to take hold. A shaggier look with a 3.5” finished cutting height will protect the root crowns as well as the soil biology located near the surface of the soil. Be sure to take your tape measure and measure the finished cut height. Just because it looks like 3.5” if you were to measure your mower blade/deck doesn’t always equate to a 3.5” cut.
Mow when your lawn is dry so that you can save some wear and tear on your lawn mower and also keep the grass from clumping on the lawn. It will also help minimize the spread of lawn diseases. Last but not least, make sure that your blade on your lawn mower is kept sharp. There's nothing worse than using a dull blade to cut your grass. It will hack and chop your grass leaving unattractive ragged brown edges and can pose a risk for damaging your lawn.
Water is an important part of growing a healthy, green lawn. However it can be expensive and in many situations water access is restricted making it difficult to meet your lawn’s needs on hot summer days.
In an ideal world, the soil beneath your turf will be the ‘go to’ reservoir for most of your lawn’s requirements. With a healthy and working soil foodweb the soil structure will be porous, with lots of soil pockets to serve as potential water reservoirs. It’s never too late to start working with the soil foodweb by using organic fertilizers like our SoilPerfect Rx turf fertilizer and other practices recommended on our website.
The most important thing to remember about turf and moisture levels is not to let the turf dry out. Imagine the soil beneath the turf is like a big sponge. A dried out sponge under your kitchen faucet will take a long time to rehydrate. For the first few minutes it absorbs very little, and most of the tap water runs off down the drain. Over time, it is able to absorb more until it becomes fully saturated.
Your lawn is no different. Turning on the sprinkler for one hour once a week on a ‘bone’ dry turf will likely see most of that water run off down the drain. Start off with shorter time frames, and water more frequently until the soil is saturated. (You can stick a probe (spade) into the soil to check water penetration). Once saturation is achieved, water one inch once a week or when the water starts runs off to the drain.
It is best to water in the early morning. Evaporation is at a minimum, and the grass will have the day to dry, reducing the likelihood of disease.