So far this summer has been a difficult one in most parts of the country in terms of heat and drought stress. If you look at your calendar and then look out at your lawn and then look back at your calendar you need to know that at no other time of year is your lawn going to be faced with more perils than right now. The sun is blazing, the water is at a premium, (except in some parts of the country where it has been measured in feet per day recently) and your lawn is flat out STRESSED out. If your not thrilled with the way it looks I want you to work on an exercise next time your driving around the neighborhood. Take a good hard look at every other lawn. How are they looking? The saying
goes, "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" but in July that is usually not the case. Now, once you get out to the main road take a look at the turf in front of all the businesses and municipal buildings, you know, the ones that usually look REALLY good. Probably not so good right now.
Some of the major ills that are effecting the majority of lawns can be summed up in a couple of words; three to be exact, crab grass, weeds and brown spots. The simple fact is that grass just doesn't do well in this type of weather and it begins to shut itself down and go dormant to preserve it's ability to recover in the future. When it turns brown, stops growing and the soil temperatures skyrocket it's prime time for weeds and crabgrass to move into a more prevalent role in your yard. Even though your best approach to this situation is to just wait it out for cooler temperatures and rain to arrive there certainly are things you can be doing to prevent things from slipping further into the summer doldrums.
The most basic of concepts comes into play here, if your lawn is stressed out from heat and drought. If your lawn could speak to you it would politely ask you to make up your mind as to whether you are going to water regularly or not. You really need to decide one way or the other because doing just half the job can really make things worse by constantly teasing the root system into thinking there is a regular supply of water. Roots will become very shallow and potentially create an opportunity for permanent damage to occur if the stressful weather is extended for any long period of time. If you are not going to water regularly, just let it go dormant. Your lawn will thank you when it returns later in the season. If you are going to water, it's very important to water DEEPLY. In place of fifteen minutes every day you should settle on 45 minutes every three days but just be consistent. We all know that our organic lawns are much more resilient and have a stronger root system than chemical lawns but this summer has been a real tough one.
Here is an extra tip, if you are going to commit to watering your lawn regularly and your in the middle of a real hot stretch you can do what many pro's call "syringing." During the heat of the day when the sun is high in the sky try to water your lawn for ten minutes per zone, every day. You will not accomplish anything in terms of getting any water to the roots of your grass but the quick spritz of water will reduce the air temperature directly above your lawn big time, allowing for less stress.
I think it's fair to say that we do more harm to our lawns with our lawn mowers than we even know. Here is rule number one when it comes to having a nice lawn, probably even ahead of the products that you apply to it. Rule number one is to never, ever under any circumstances mow your lawn in the heat of the day if temperatures are above eighty five degrees. Don't do it. Really, just don't do it. If you have no choice in the matter make sure your mowing first thing in the morning or in late afternoon, again, to reduce as much stress on the plants as possible.
We kind of consider them no brainers but it's important that you keep the blades on your mower sharp and you mow the lawn as high as you can stand it.
Like all things, this too shall pass. If your lawn looks absolutely horrible, it's not a permanent thing! Your lawn will begin to bounce back when temperatures decrease and water is more available. It doesn't make any sense whatsoever to worry about it, don't yell at your lawn guy and try not to think negatively about it. It's all going to be okay!