It’s summer, which means it’s hot, and in many cases, dry. Lawns are showing the effects of these stress factors. It is critical to the health of the lawn to water properly and to set the mower to cut the lawn at a higher setting.
Mowing Your Lawn Properly
One of the most common problems that Lawn Care Operators face involve lawns that are mowed too short. Many homeowners are under the impression that if they cut the lawn short, they don’t have to mow as often. To a certain extent that is true, but by mowing short, the lawn will not grow well since it is trying to recover from the loss of food that was being produced by the grass blades. This is NOT a healthy practice to follow as it will weaken the lawn.
Here are the four main reasons why a lawn needs to be cut at a longer length:
- The grass blade is the food producing part of the plant. When mowed short, less photosynthesis is taking place until the plant grows a new grass blade.
- The longer grass blade will shade the ground underneath, keeping it cooler and inhibiting water evaporation. The lawn will require less water when cut at a higher length.
- By shading the ground underneath, less sun will reach the soil and there will be less chance for weed seeds to heat up and germinate. Having longer grass will help reduce weed growth.
- It is a natural balance of nature that the roots will grow in depth to match the height of the lawn. This does not mean that the grass should be mowed at 6 inches, but it does mean that the roots will be better developed and grow deeper than a lawn where the grass is cut short.
Many commercial lawn maintenance companies mow too short, stating that is what their customers want. It is important to discuss the mowing height requirements with the company that mows the lawn and find one that will mow at the proper height. These are the recommended summer mowing heights for common lawn grasses in the US:
• Bermuda Grass 1-1/2”
• Zoysia Grass 1-1/2”
• Centipede Grass 2”
• St Augustine Grass 3-1/2 ”
• Tall Fescue Grass 4”
• Bluegrass 3”
• Perennial Ryegrass 3”
• Fine Fescue 3-1⁄2”
Watering Your Lawn
Watering is the second most misunderstood lawn care practice. Unless the lawn has an automatic sprinkler system, watering can be a laborious task. Moving around hoses and sprinklers can be tedious and remembering to turn on and off the water can be difficult, especially when not at home during the day. The best time to water a lawn is during the early morning and try to avoid watering at night. The prime conditions for diseases to develop in a lawn is when it is cooler, there is a good deal of available moisture on the grass blades and the sun has set for the day.
Either water a lawn on a consistent basis or allow it to go dormant. Except in extreme drought conditions, most grasses can survive for about 30 days without water. Watering enough to stimulate new growth and then allowing the lawn to go back into dormancy, time and time again will use up the plant’s carbohydrate reserves – increasing its susceptibility to disease and insect infestations. If you are going to water, be consistent and provide one inch of water per week, regardless if you are doing it manually or have a sprinkler system.
If you do have a sprinkler system, be sure you have your system checked by a professional company. Many Spring-Green locations offer lawn irrigation system maintenance check-ups during the summer. This is a great idea to ensure that all sections of the lawn are receiving adequate water and there are no leaks or damaged heads. It is also a great time to update your system with rain gauges and moisture sensors to provide water when it is needed and not every day.