Lawns are easy to keep green when it’s cool, but how do you keep a lawn healthy as the weather warms and water needs increase? In order to conserve water, crowd out weeds and grow a thick, green lawn, follow these tips.
Start by mowing high, about three inches or your lawn mower’s highest setting. Longer grass encourages deep roots, retains soil moisture and crowds out weeds. Mowing too low scalps the lawn and creates brown spots. To reduce stress on the grass, remove no more than one-third of the grass blade when you mow.
By using a mulching mower, you can recycle the grass clippings back into the soil to nourish the grass. This adds organic matter back into the soil and reduces the amount of fertilizer needed.
Another good tip is to start the season with sharp mower blades. Good clean cuts are better for the health of the lawn than raggedy tearing cuts. You may need to have the blades sharpened a few times a season, depending on how much you mow.
Water early in the morning or in the evening when the wind is calm. Water deeply to promote deep roots. This makes the grass more resilient in the face of drought stress. If you have a problem with water not soaking into the soil easily, water in multiple short cycles per day to prevent runoff.
Improve water penetration into the soil by core aerating. This reduces soil compaction and helps get rid of thatch. After aerating, add a quarter-inch thick layer of compost and water it in. Water on your home’s assigned watering days.
Do a can test to tell how much water your irrigation system delivers and if it waters evenly. Get three or four cans or coffee mugs all the same size. Place the cans around the lawn and let the sprinkler run its cycle. When the sprinklers are finished, look inside the cans.
Measure the amount of water in each one. Is the amount in each can the same? If there is a big difference between the amounts in each can, adjust the sprinklers so the water covers your grass evenly. Repeat this test for each irrigation station. Approximately one inch of water per week is enough now, but you need to increase that amount to almost two inches when the weather is in the 90s.
?Never fertilize in the heat of summer. Fertilize now and again in the fall. And, if you only fertilize once a year, fall is the best time.
This article was taken from “Tips for a Healthy Lawn” by Melody Hefner, 2019, Extension/ University of Nevada, Reno.
— JoAnne Skelly is an Associate Professor & Extension Educator Emerita at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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