It’s that time of year again: the start of summer! The sounds of mowers and sprinklers fill the air, because everyone’s trying to keep their lawns and gardens growing after a successful spring. But that ongoing maintenance can be more challenging than you think.
Let’s face it. Lawn and garden care may not be the most “fun perk of homeownership. It’s a lot of work, and it can be mystifying — especially if you’ve never done it before. Fortunately, there are a few simple tips that can make caring for your lawn and garden a little easier as you coast into summer.
Homeowners care for lawns in different ways. There’s even a movement to let lawns go “wild” — although your homeowner’s association or city zoning laws may argue otherwise. Regardless of your big-picture philosophy, your overall goal now is to maintain what you’ve got, keeping your lawn and garden healthy. Here are the basics.
###W atering: Less Is More
Water is the source of life. Lawns are no different. While some grasses are sturdier and able to withstand higher temperatures and drier conditions, all grasses are prone to drying roots when rain is scarce.
While you may think small daily waterings are good, they actually create more drought-prone, shorter roots. Instead, water less frequently but with more water. Ideally, give your lawn one inch of water per week, but more if heat is above average. When you water, put a rain gauge in your yard to measure. This method will encourage deeper roots, which can recover from long dry periods. If watering with a hose, consider adding a feeder so that you can water and fertilize your lawn at the same time.
Mowing: Sharp and Steady Wins the Race
When to mow? It depends. But generally speaking, taller grass is more resistant to drought. Depending on your grass, it’s typically best to mow about every week so that grass remains between one and three inches tall. That also means you can lift up your mower, and go longer between mowing if your grass is growing slower.
Speaking of mowers, when’s the last time you had your blade sharpened? If you do yardwork infrequently and begrudgingly, you can probably get away with sharpening the mower blade once a season. If you want to keep your grass in great condition, however, experts generally agree that you should hone that blade after every 25 hours of grass cutting. Why? Think about taking some asparagus and slicing it with a knife. Now imagine ripping that bundle with your hands. A good blade puts less stress on the grass, causing less damage when you mow.
Weeds and Pests: Timing Is Everything
Weeds, insects, and diseases are problematic in both your garden and your lawn. They’re well-known enemies of a healthy outdoor space, much as bacteria and viruses can wreak havoc inside your body. So how do you get rid of them?
Summer is often weed-seeding time, so it’s best to get those dealt with early on. If you’re using chemicals on your lawn, be mindful of how temperature can impact the process. Some fertilizers and herbicides are sensitive to heat and can further stress lawns.
Due to the increasing moisture, the summer months are also prime season for fungal diseases. Watering during morning or late afternoon reduces overnight fungal growth. Of course, there’s always fungicide.
Patching: Not All Lawn Band-aids Are Created Equal
Finally, it’s good to remember that there are two primary stressors on your lawn: its environment, and any damage inflicted on it. These stressors may mean you need to do some occasional patching.
Your yard’s environment includes rain, watering, and any chemicals you put on it. As for damage, that’s something homeowners contend with even if the yard isn’t used. Plenty of homeowners have had to fix tire tracks when an accident happens in front of their residence. You may also need to make repairs after those killer summer backyard parties.
It’s worth looking up specifics that will work well for your area and climate, like what type of grass to replant and which soils to use. You’ll find lots of online resources for this. Keep in mind that the hotter months aren’t good for making repairs, because seedlings have a hard time in the heat. Instead, make a plan so that when fall hits, you already have soil and seedlings ready to cover up any scars in your yard. Until then, enjoy all the croquet you want!
Lawn on Lockdown: You’ve Totally Got This
Maintaining your garden and lawn throughout the summer is absolutely within reach. By taking a little care in how you water, mow, protect, and patch your lawn, you can help your yard stay healthy. A great-looking yard? Now THAT’S a perk of homeownership.