You’re in love with your lawn, and now it’s your time to shine. It’s summertime. Your grass should be thick, lush, and a beautiful deep green. Your grass care includes mowing and watering and treating for weeds. After all, you take great pride in having the best lawn on the block. Follow our complete summer lawn care guide for lawn solutions to make your grass dreams come true, and help you stay on top of the challenges that summer can bring.
Why Does the Lawn Turn Brown in the Summer?
High on the list of lawn care complaints in the hot summer months are brown spots or complete browning of the lawn. A crispy, brown lawn is a symptom of a problem with your lawn. It could be from natural causes, or you could be unwittingly causing damage with your lawn care schedule.
There are many root causes of a brown lawn, including:
- Poor Lawn Care
Turfgrass is a plant, and like any other plant, it reacts to unmet water needs by wilting, browning, and in extreme cases, dying. Plants need sufficient water to thrive, so if your lawn is thirsty, it just won’t look its best.
To diagnose drought, look at your lawn as a whole. Brown patches often occur in patterns. For example, shady, lower levels, or areas near sprinklers might stay green while areas in the sun, higher up, or further from water sources will brown. Next, grab hold of some brown grass. If it does not pull from the ground easily because it still has deep roots, your problem is most likely drought stress.
The lawn solution for underwatered turf is simple: water it. Keep reading to learn how to water your grass the right way.
Lawn care experts will tell you dormancy is a normal occurrence in the summer months, in both warm season and cool season grass varieties. Your lawn may go dormant as a protective measure if it’s not receiving adequate moisture. The difference between a lawn that has gone dormant and a lawn with drought stress is that a dormant lawn might take three to four weeks of regular watering and lawn care before it begins to perk back up and turn green again.
Drought can cause dormancy and even death to your lawn. To determine whether your lawn has fallen dormant, tug on your brown grass. If the root system is still intact, making it hard to pull, your lawn may have gone dormant due to the heat or drought.
Like with treating drought stress, the lawn solution treatment for a dormant lawn is also water, plus some added patience as you’ll need to wait for your lawn to wake back up. Don’t go crazy with corrective lawn care measures, as excessive watering will not speed up the process, and you could potentially cause more damage.
Insects and Disease
Many insects eat the root systems of turfgrasses and others that feed on plant tissue above ground. This grass care issue can present itself in many ways. You can check with your local Cooperative Extension System office to find out native pests to your area.
Added stress from heat and drought during the summer months makes your lawn more susceptible to disease and insect attacks.
Tug on the brown spots to determine whether or not the root system is intact. If the grass comes up easily without many roots, you might have a root-eating-insect problem.
Your local Coop office will have lawn solutions for an insect problem. There are many potential lawn solutions, including chemical insecticides, homemade natural treatments, and introducing helpful bacteria, fungus, or worms.
Poor Lawn Care Practices
Improper lawn care can also cause your grass to brown. Cutting your grass too short, over or under watering, and fertilizing at the wrong times can lead to the health of your grass suffering.
Determining if your lawn is suffering at your own hands will likely come down to a process of elimination. If your area hasn’t been experiencing a drought, and you don’t have a bug problem, you might be incorrectly caring for your lawn.
If you determine you’ve been dropping the ball when it comes to lawn care due to ignorance or neglect, read on to learn how to give your lawn the love it deserves.
How to Keep Your Grass Green When it’s Super Hot
Part of keeping your grass healthy and green through the summer is taking some preemptive measures and planning. Summer lawn care needs to start before it gets hot.
Early Summer Lawn Care
As spring turns to summer, be sure to feed your lawn. First, check the quality of your soil with a screwdriver. If your soil is compacted, early summer is a good time to aerate your lawn, then follow with fertilizer. Your pre-summer lawn care fertilizer should be rich in phosphorous to help your grass’s root system get established. Deeper roots mean grass that is more resistant to summer stressors.
For some grass, lawn fertilization schedules should include fertilizing every six weeks, but other kinds of grass will react poorly to the extra nutrients amid drought and heat.
If you anticipate an insect problem, based on neighbors’ input or previous lawn care, your early summer lawn solution plan should include treating for insects.
Should I Fertilize in the Summer?
If your turfgrass is a warm-season variety, it grows during the warm summer months and goes dormant in the winter months. Proper lawn care for warm-season grasses includes fertilizing throughout the summer; however, you may find that the extra nutrients make your grass grow too fast. If this is the case, choose a fertilizer that is lower in its nitrogen content.
Don’t fertilize cool-season grasses through the summer. Grasses that are cool-season grow best during spring and fall. Grass care schedules should include fertilizing before it gets hot, and not again until the fall, as too many nutrients stimulate growth that dips into carbohydrate reserves.
Lawn Care All Summer Long
Mow your grass high throughout the summer. Longer grass blades shade your lawn’s root system and protect it from summer stress and allow deeper roots to develop. Keep your grass about three inches high, mowing about once a week. Your grass care mowing schedule might change if you get more rain, or experience a drought.
When you mow, a natural lawn solution for fertilizer is to let the clippings lie. The clippings break down and get reabsorbed into your lawn to help feed it. Lawn clippings can account for about twenty-five percent of the grasses’ nutrients, so be sure to take this into account for your grass care schedule.
Spot treat weeds that pop up throughout the summer months. There are many lawn solution methods to beat this pesky problem, including chemical herbicides, manually removing weeds or natural alternatives like salt and vinegar.
Repair bare spots as they develop. Generally, it’s best to reseed your lawn in spring to early summer, but you can spot repair throughout the season. If you have a dog that’s causing damage to your grass, you can go about it in several ways. Correct the issue with supplements you feed your dog, sprays that deter your dog from a particular area, and sprays that help to neutralize the soil.
Water regularly and deeply. Many people don’t water their lawns correctly. It can be confusing if you have a lawn care routine, and you’re periodically watering your grass, but it’s still turning brown. You’re likely not watering deeply enough or frequently enough.
How to Water Your Lawn Properly
Second, only to frequent mowing, is watering your lawn.
Turfgrass requires one to two inches of water per week through the growing season. If it gets very hot, you might have to increase your watering frequency. Take rain into account when you’re planning your lawn care. If it’s raining more often, you can back off the sprinklers. If it’s not raining at all, you might need to increase your watering.
Water deeply and less often as opposed to a light spray of water every day. This lawn solution method helps to promote healthy root systems and less soil compaction. Avoid overwatering, as this is a poor grass care practice and can kill your grass.
The best time to water your lawn is early in the morning. Watering your lawn early gives it adequate time to dry through the day, which prevents issues like fungus. Experts in grass care will water their lawn at five o’clock in the morning. Luckily, irrigation systems have timers to set and start automatically, for those of us that take grass care and lawn solutions seriously but are not early birds.
Mid-Summer Lawn Care
In the mid to late summer, your grass care needs to include maintenance of your lawn solution tools.
Your lawnmower is a considerable part of your grass care and should receive an oil change, air filter change, and new spark plugs. You also should sharpen your mower’s blades at this point. A dull blade will tear the grass blades as opposed to cutting. Torn grass blades leave your grass open for insect and fungal infection, and also cause brown tips and lousy water retention. Keep your mower’s blades sharp to avoid this grass care blunder.
What to do if Your Grass Turns Brown
If you’re a bit late to the party with your lawn care and you already have some brown spots, have no fear. You can treat most issues with lawn solutions, including proper watering and soil or grass care treatments.
If your brown spots are closer to dead spots, you can reseed and grow new grass. The best time to reseed your lawn is to include this grass care process in spring or fall, but with some dedication to your lawn solution, you can fix those spots in the summer, too.
- Get the soil ready by removing thatch, or the dead grass build-up. Use a hand rake or a garden rake, depending on how big the spot is. Once you remove the thatch, loosen the soil with your rake to prepare it for the seeds.
- Spread the grass seed evenly over the bare spot, following the directions on the packaging. Do not overseed, as this will force the new grass to compete for space and nutrients. Aim for 7-10 seeds per square inch.
- Gently water the grass seed thoroughly. Keep the spot moist for two weeks or until the seeds germinate. If it’s currently very hot, this may mean watering the spot multiple times a day. Keep pets and foot traffic away from the area, and do not mow for at least 3 weeks post-germination.
- When you mow the new grass for the first time, take only the top third off, to allow the root system to continue to grow.
Pro Lawn Care Tips for the Best Looking Lawn
Now that you know how to keep up proper lawn care and lawn solutions throughout the summer, here are some lawn care pro-tips for the best-looking lawn in your neighborhood.
- Adjust your lawn care to your specific lawn. If your grass receives low light due to shade, keep your grass higher. This lawn solution allows for more photosynthesis and an overall happier lawn.
- Mow when the grass is dry. For a lawn solution that benefits your lawnmower’s health, and for the best lawn care results, you want to make sure the grass is dry before mowing.
- Your lawn solution schedule should include mowing to avoid the hottest part of the day. Mowing the lawn causes stress to the grass. Heat also stresses the grass. Mowing the lawn in the middle of the day causes excessive stress, and forces your grass to lose its water. Grass care experts mow in the early morning, later in the evening, or when it’s shady.
- Edge your lawn along sidewalks, driveways, and gardens. The most pristine-looking lawns have crisp edges. You can use your inverted weedeater or a tool made specifically for edging. It’s an extra grass care step, but it’s well worth it.
- Switch up your mowing pattern. Lawn solution experts don’t repeatedly mow in the same direction, as this can compact the soil and cause rutting.