Homeowners in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC have enjoyed a nice start to summer with temperatures close to average and plenty of rainfall to keep their yards and landscaping looking lush and healthy. But as summer wears on, the mid-Atlantic is sure to get its usual dose of hot humid air and long stretches with no rain. This weather pattern can do a number on your lawn, taking it from green and healthy to brown and brittle.
Believe it or not, your mowing habits can contribute to problems with your lawn if not done properly. Of course, keeping your lawn regularly mowed encourages your grass to grow thicker, which also helps crowd out the weeds. But don't cut it too short - your grass will actually grow faster the shorter it's cut. And shorter grass will require more frequent watering. Mowing higher also encourages deeper root growth, which makes your lawn more disease-resistant.
It's important that you maintain your mower and keep the blades sharp. Dull blades rip the grass rather than making a clean cut, which will appear ragged and brown at the cut surface and be more susceptible to disease. And rather than bagging the clippings, use a mulching blade which returns the chopped grass to your yard. As it decomposes, it will release nutrients that will fertilize your lawn.
Some homeowners like to fertilize their lawn. In many areas it's not really necessary unless you have very poor soil. But summer is not the time to fertilize. It can often lead to rapid growth in the summer months, which just means more mowing and more work for the homeowner. It can also encourage new growth which probably won't survive the summer heat. Save fertilizing for the spring and fall.
When watering your lawn, there's a right and a wrong way to do it. It's best to water as early in the morning as possible, so it has plenty of time to dry out before sunset. Wet grass after dark can lead to fungus invading your lawn. How often should you water? During the active growing season, grass needs one to one and a half inches of water per week. But you don't want to water for just a few minutes every day. It's better to do a deep watering a couple times a week. This allows water to soak deeper into the soil, encouraging deeper root growth.
Proper mowing practices, a smart watering schedule, and applying fertilizer at the appropriate times will lead to a healthy yard. Follow these tips to keep your lawn green, hardy, and barefoot-soft all summer long!