Tuesday, April 19, 2011
It’s now late in the summer, the kids are getting back to school and you are thinking I need get my lawn back in shape. Usually we can count on some tough summer challenges with our lawn whether they come from heat, drought, insects or fungus. Every lawn and area of the country is different but if properly managed, a good portion of our lawn will come back from the ravages of summer.
Many of you experience a ‘brown’ lawn each summer. Established turf grasses have an ability to shut down and go into dormancy much like a bear in the winter. This process helps the lawn to survive the summer. Many times a brown lawn does not mean your lawn in dead. If the roots are well established and you have been following proper practices lists here over the years, chances are, all or most of your lawn will survive the average summer. The cooler nights and rainfall in fall bring the majority of many lawns back to life.
Recently I attended the Rutgers University Turf grass conference held here in New Jersey. Rutgers is a world leading breeder and developer of all types of cool season grasses including perennial ryegrass, fine fescues, tall fescue and kentucky bluegrass. They probably account for more than three quarters of all new grass seed varieties released in the last 25 years. I mention this because some of their trials include grasses which are more low maintenance, shade tolerant, disease resistant and drought and heat tolerant, all important to the survival of your lawn.
The best way for your lawn to “survive” summer is to start with the best quality Jonathan Green grass seed, selected for the conditions in your lawn. I mean, who goes shopping for the cheapest rose, why buy the cheapest grass seed? Mixtures with a lot of kentucky bluegrass do not do well in the shade or poor quality soils. Annual Ryegrass dies off after one year. Choose fescues for shaded areas of your lawn like Jonathan Green Shady Nooks Mixture. Tall fescues survive better under poorer soil conditions as seen in Jonathan Green Drought Tough Mixture. Choose mixtures that contain endophytes, like Jonathan Green Black Beauty Ultra Mixture. Endophytes are a naturally occurring fungus that is beneficial and provides natural insect resistance.
Proper watering in late spring and summer is crucial to the long term survival of your lawn. Do not overwater; this can be bad for the lawn promoting fungus. The lawn needs one to two inches a week to be healthy, whether coming from natural rainfall or supplemental irrigation. Do you know how long to run your sprinklers? Why not cut out the top of a coffee can (take the coffee out!) and place it on the lawn and time how long it takes to fill to one inch. This gives you a guideline for watering. It would be best to deliver one inch of water in two or more waterings per week. You do not want to water so much to create runoff or waste water.
Raise your mowing height during the summer months. This reduces stress on lawns. Higher mowing heights produce longer roots, helping your lawn to better withstand drought periods. Keep those mower blades sharp for a clean, attractive cut. Grass blades which show signs of shredding after mowing are more susceptible to disease. Mow frequently and do not cut off more than 1/3 of the leaf blade. Alter your mowing pattern so you do not create as much compaction from the mower in the same area. When was the last time you aerated your lawn?
It is all right to feed your lawn with the proper fertilizer during summer but it is not recommended when the lawn is under heat and drought stress. Fertilizer will not bring back a lawn which has turned brown in the summer months. Keeping a thick, healthy Jonathan Green lawn year round is the best way to have it bounce back in the fall.Back