It is sweltering hot and humid out there! Many homeowners like you want to know how you can help your lawn and garden make it through this heat.
Forecasts highs of 34 deg C (93 F) today and 37 deg C (98 F) for tomorrow will likely break and achieve all time heat records. Then when you add in the humidity, we are well into the 40’s C (100-115 F)!
This kind of heat is the equivalent of planting your lawn into a sauna and expecting it to survive.
Here are some quick tips and reminders on how to help your lawn and valuable trees, shrubs and flowers make it through these difficult times.
– Recognize that all plants have different watering needs, turf needs on average 1.5″-2″ of water per week over one to two waterings. Annual flowers may need daily watering, especially if newly planted or in elevated beds or pots that dry out more quickly. Trees need at least one good soaking every 3-4 weeks using our slow drip method (below).
– Water deeply and regularly using our guidelines: high temperatures and wind can dessicate the ground very quickly so the soil will need replenishing. Shallow and frequent watering causes more harm than you think. Sprinkler systems that go on every day for 10-15 minutes don’t create healthy plants and only create a false state of security.
– Water in the morning or early evening: to prevent water loss from evaporation. If watering at night, you may encourage some leaf diseases and fungal issues. These normally won’t kill plants and are more aesthetic. Better to water at night then to never water at all.
– Water the soil, not the leaves: This helps reduce disease and leaf injury from sun scorch.
– Get a hose end timer!: One of the main reasons people don’t get around to watering is that they don’t have the time to hang around and turn the hose off. Well, these relatively inexpensive devices will turn off the water for you after a predetermined interval. Budget about $25-$100 depending on manual vs. digital.
– Dont forget your trees!: They need deep watering too. Use our slow drip method; turn the hose on just enough to achieve a slow drip or trickle, place the hose at the base of the tree and go away for a while… Have a cold drink and only move the hose after you see the water puddling up on the surface. Depending on the size of the tree, you may have to move it around a few times, this method ensures the roots get a deep soaking. Spruces are particularly vulnerable to drought stress and damage from this year often shows up in later years. A single medium to large tree can take 3-5 hours to do this right.
– Thunderstorms are useless!: Seriously, just because we get 3″ of rain in 10 minutes, doesn’t mean the soil absorbed any of it! Check for yourself, grab a shovel and check a small spot after a storm, you’ll be lucky if the water soaked the top inch of soil. The ground becomes so hard in the summer with the heat , that soil can become hydrophobic, and actually repel water, especially clay soils. If this is the case, water in intervals until it starts to absorb (water for 15 minutes, wait 30 minutes, repeat). I recommend to disregard thunderstorms as a source of beneficial water entirely.
The first rule is that if you follow the rules, mowing will be easier!
– Throw out your calendar: Grass cant tell if its the weekend or not, it needs to be mowed when it needs to be mowed. This depends on the season and the weather, no matter how important or busy you think you are, the lawn doesnt care…humbling, I know!
– 1/3rd rule: Mow as often as necessary so that you are never removing more than one third of the blade at each mowing. The good news is, this prevents having to rake and bag clippings. The lawn can easily absorb and decompose clippings of this size without causing excess thatch. It will even add some nutrients back into the soil.
– Mow high: No not literally, we are talking about turf-grass! Keep the lawn at 2 3/4- 3″ high, not because I said so, but because whoever you believe created grass, made it that way. It needs to be at the height to achieve a healthy root system and give you the nice lush look you want. Any thing lower, reduces the abilty to produce a proper root system, and also cuts off the main leaves that give you the thick lush look, plus the leaves are the food storage- If you want the look of a golf green, then buy a $4000.00 greens mower, be prepared to water daily, install a $50,000 drainage system under your lawn, fertilize weekly, have plenty of fungicide on hand and plant bentgrass or annual bluegrass that were made to grow and be mowed that short!
– Bag clippings when weeds are in seed: The only time you really need to bag clippings is when the weeds are in flower (seeds come right after the flower), this helps to prevent the spread of weeds and is an important tenet of organic lawn care.
– Sharpen your blade: One of the most common problems we see with lawns is the “torn-look” of mowing with a dull blade. Not only does this make the grass tips look brown, fuzzy and ragged, it invites disease by increasing the surface area for pathogen entry.
– Change up your pattern: Mow in different directions to prevent rutting, compaction and pr0duces a more vibrant stand of grass.
– DONT MOW when the lawn is stressed: especially with heavy machinery and big tires that only further rip already weak and stressed blades. Take a break, the lawn probably hasn’t even grown that much (see throw out your calendar, 1/3 rule, etc.)