Turf Talk
Our Turf Talk blog gives you the professional advice you need to care for your lawn.

Here comes the sun. Will your lawn beat the heat?

By now, your lawn growth will have started to slow. Slower growth means slower recovery and repair when damage occurs. It also means less resistance to stress from insects, diseases and heat. On the other side of this brochure, we’ve recommended a cutting height of 4 inches. Proper cutting is the single, most important key to maintaining a healthy lawn. Mowing right helps the lawn to thicken up, increase in density, thrive while other lawns are suffering, reduces the need for watering, and increases stress resistance. Mowing incorrectly, even once, stops all of this from happening. Poor mowing practices don’t simply stress the lawn, it actually damages it. There is a difference. On the front of our lawn sign that you’ve been keeping near your front steps, is a handy ruler for your convenience whenever you cut your lawn.

Over 90% of the moisture in your lawn is in the grass blades. Leaving your lawn longer keeps more moisture in the plant, meaning it will survive longer without your garden hose. Longer blades will also protect the soil, reducing the degree to which the sun and wind strip the moisture from the soil. The soil is your lawns last resort for moisture. The longer the blades are, the deeper the roots are. Deeper roots mean access to more moisture. But roots don’t grow overnight. This is why keeping your lawn long (3 1/2 inches) in the spring and early summer is so important in paying dividends in the summer months. Mow more often if necessary. Resist the urge to cut shorter. If you do, your lawn will remind you this was not a good idea by looking horrible from July to winter.

You may not be aware of it, but your lawn produces hormones. These hormones allow it to reproduce. It can’t do this if it has been cut too short and is expending all of its energy recovering and repairing itself. Only tall, healthy grass plants produce the hormone. Reproduction equals more grass plants which means increased density and thickness. The word “LUSH” now comes to mind. Keep in mind, that for every inch of growth above the soil, your lawn has twice the root below the soil. Deeper roots mean access to more moisture, which means a lower water bill and a nicer lawn.

When it comes time to water your lawn, do it right. There are wrong ways to water your lawn.

Water deeply and infrequently. The worst thing you can do to your lawn is make it dependant upon a sprinkle of water every day. Your lawn will become accustomed to these brief , daily waterings. The roots will remain shallow, near the surface, where they know they will be getting fed, and where they are used to absorbing water. When the watering routine is interrupted, or a drought occurs, the lawn will very quickly become stressed since it is unable to tap into a deeper source of moisture.

Watering deeply teaches the roots to chase the water down through the soil. Deep watering thoroughly saturates the entire mass of the soil, encouraging the roots to seek out pockets of trapped water.

Watering infrequently allows the soil to dry up from the surface down, and teaches the roots to fend for themselves. If the lawn is forced to go a few days without water, it will begin searching for deeper sources.

Your lawn should only be watered when it needs it. Don’t water until it begins to show obvious signs of stress. If it isn’t showing stress, it’s doing fine without the water.

Don’t feel that you have to water just because you have a fancy irrigation system. Look at your irrigation system like an insurance policy. It costs money to use it and you should only use it when something goes wrong.

Your lawn should only be watered once or twice per week. Water slowly. Never over water. Keeping the surface wet is ideal for weeds, insects, and diseases in particular. Over watering will also leach away the nutrients in the soil, making the soil hard and bumpy.

When you do water, apply about 1” per week. To measure how long you need to leave the water on, place several foil pie plates or baking pans throughout the lawn. Run the sprinkler until they are filled to 1” and keep track of how long it took. If you water twice per week, divide the time by two.

Water in the morning. Local water consumption is lower, therefore greater water pressure is available. Watering in the morning also allows the water time to soak in before evaporating. Never water in the afternoon sun. High temperatures and wind increase evaporation and produce uneven watering patterns. The water droplets can also magnify the sun’s rays and burn the grass plants.

Try to avoid watering at night. The water will often remain on the surface until morning before evaporating. Being wet for such a long period, diseases will have ample opportunity to develop and rotting may begin to occur.

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