Keep Your Yard Looking Great This Summer
Now that spring has come and gone its time to think about summer lawn care and maintenance. Faced with the extreme North Texas heat, mandatory water restrictions and less than average rainfall predictions. Lawn Grasses in North Texas can become semi dormant during these hotter months of the year. In order to keep your lawn viable and healthy through these conditions there’s a few things we need to do.
During the summer months your lawn grows at a much slower rate lessening the need to mow as often. Most grasses should be mowed weekly in order to look and perform their best. Avoid letting the turf grass grow too tall, cutting more than one third the height of the grass at one time can cause the grass to become stressed. Common Bermuda should be kept at one and a half inches tall; St Augustine should be mowed to a height of two and a half inches tall. These heights can be moved up by one half inch during excessive heat or drought conditions, this will help to conserve water.
Watering your lawn during the early morning hours is best. Watering at this time helps eliminate water loss from evaporation and allows the water to penetrate the soil and reach the root system where it is needed most. Watering at night increases the chance of developing various diseases such as brown patch.
Lawn Grass that is allowed to grow too tall can become weak and more susceptible to weeds. Use a mulching blade if possible, this allows the clippings to return to the ground. Clippings cut with a mulching blade are short so they will decompose quickly and become food for your lawn.
Try to avoid mowing when the turf is wet. Mowing when the grass is wet causes the mower blade to rip the grass blades instead of giving it a clean cut. Mowing when wet can also spread lawn diseases if they are present. Regular equipment maintenance is important as well, make sure you mower blades are sharp. Dull blades can actually tare the grass rather than cutting it. Torn or ripped blades of grass will give the lawn a dull brown appearance when seen from a distance.
One inch a week is the standard water requirement established for most lawns; however, this will vary between turf grass varieties and soil types. During the summer months an established lawn with minimal water can become semi dormant, meaning that the plant will go into a period of rest. With adequate water, the root system of the turf will survive until cooler temperatures have returned. The top portion of the turf will look brown just as it does during the winter dormancy period, once the temperatures have dropped and the frequency of watering has increased the turf grass will begin to green up and look healthy once again. Summertime lawn dormancy can be avoided with additional watering depending on the current water restrictions set forth in your area.
During the growing season most lawns will survive with at least one inch of water per week, this being from rain or from a homeowners water source. When applied properly this amount of water is all that is required for a healthy lawn, making sure to water evenly and to saturate the underlying soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. Infrequent and deep watering is best because the roots will only grow as deep as its most available water supply. Deeply watered lawns have a larger water source that allows it to survive for longer periods during excessive heat
and in between watering.
Examine your lawn to determine its water needs. Grass that needs water will have a dark gray green color. Also pay attention as you walk across the turf, footprints that are visible in the yard after 20-30 minuets are a sure sign that immediate watering is needed. Footprints should disappear within in a couple of minuets.
Watering your lawn during the early morning hours is best. Watering at this time helps eliminate water loss from evaporation and allows the water to penetrate the soil and reach the root system where it is needed most. Watering at night increases the chance of developing certain diseases such as brown patch.
Check with your local county to identify the exact degree of water restrictions that have been set for your location.
Fertilize the same as you would in the spring; apply one to one and a half pounds of nitrogen (N) per 1,000 sq. ft. every 6 to 8 week. The Plant Shed Lawn Fertilizer is a 21-7-14 fertilizer with slow release nitrogen (N). It is high in nitrogen and low in phosphorus (P) it also contains 3% Iron along with 7% sulfur. Be careful not to over fertilize, this is easy to do during excessive heat and drought conditions or when water restrictions limit the amount of water available for this purpose.
During the summer months weed control is achieved by using a post emergent herbicide. Post emergent refers to a weed or unwanted plant that is actively growing. Spray broadleaf weeds in and around your lawn with Fertilome Weed-out, this product will not damage desired turf grasses. Use Hi Yield Kill-Zall to control other weeds. Kill-Zall can be used to control grassy and broad leaf weeds. This product is non-selective meaning it will kill anything it contacts. Pay special attention to only spray the unwanted plants. To avoid damage to ornamental plants do not use this product during the hottest part of the day.
Turf grass under Shade trees:
Growing turf grasses under trees is difficult. It can be done, but it requires some effort and diligent work to maintain a healthy turf under these conditions.
Trees more often than not are the most common cause of shade. The largest impact of shade is the reduction of light available to the turf grass. Turf grasses along with all other plants; convert light into carbohydrates or food through a process called photosynthesis. The carbohydrates serve as an energy source for plant growth and development. If a plant does not receive enough direct sunlight to manufacture sufficient food, its health and growth will be reduced.
Some trees produce shallow surface roots, which can compete with the turf grass for available nutrients and water. This can in fact inhibit the ability of the grass to grow. Making it difficult to establish a turf of desirable quality.
Pruning tree limbs, which grow at heights below eight to ten feet, can improve the amount of morning and afternoon sunlight reaching the turf. Selective thinning of tree canopies will also allow more useful sunlight to penetrate to the turf.
Common Bermuda grass will not tolerate shade at all. St. Augustine requires at least 3-4 hours of direct sunlight in order to establish as a healthy turf. For areas where shade is the only option try planting Fescue Grass seed in the fall. Fescue grass with its dark green leaf blades is easy to plant and does excellent in shady to very shady areas such as under trees and other areas that require a shade tolerant turf.