During a beautiful Chicagoland summer, many of us head outside, hoping to spend as much time as possible in the great outdoors. After all, what could be better on a sunny summer day than walking barefoot through your freshly cut lawn, or looking out at your pristine landscaping from the shade and comfort of a perfectly arranged patio?
Lawn and garden care are home tasks that become particularly important during the summer months. With less rainfall and harsher heat settling in for the season, keeping your green areas looking verdant can become more of a challenge. At the same time, keeping up your property’s landscaping during the summer can be vital for helping you get ready for the tough fall and winter weather that’s still to come.
So, what can you do to keep the most beautiful parts of your home feeling fresh, healthy, and welcoming, during the hottest and driest months of the year? Here are five summer lawn care tips to keep in mind as we head for the “dog days:”
1.) Water Wisely
During the summer months, it can be tempting to turn on your hose every time you start to sense your lawn is drying out. Instead of keeping the water flowing constantly, however, experts agree that it’s better to water your lawn deeply and less frequently during the summer — perhaps once a week, or less.
When you do water, you want to use enough to penetrate the soil by at least a few inches. This way, you can ensure that you’re getting your lawn’s roots enough hydration. Healthier roots grow larger and stronger, allowing your turf to become better at sustaining itself during dry spells. Giving your soil time to dry out between waterings also helps ensure that your lawn is getting the most out of that hydrating H2O.
When you water can also have a big impact. During the summer, try to get your watering done in the early morning. There are usually lower temperatures and less direct at this time of day, meaning that less water will evaporate away and your lawn will get more of the moisture it needs to thrive.
2.) Mow As Needed
Keeping your lawn trim is important in the summer, but it’s also crucial not to give your turf too close of a shave. Instead of hacking away at your lawn, consider keeping the grass height higher during the summer, since taller grass is more resilient, and holds up better to heat and drought.
The Chicago Botanic Garden recommends maintaining a grass height around 2.5 to 3 inches, for example. The Garden also encourages mowers to “try to never remove more than one-third of blade height at any one time,” as this can lead to a less resilient lawn.
You may want to keep up a regular mowing schedule, but many homeowners also find that it can be helpful to mow only as needed during the summer. When you do mow, be sure to leave the clippings on the lawn, or collect and redistribute them. These broken down blades of grass decompose quickly, and can help provide vital nutrients to promote healthier growth for the rest of your lawn.
3.) Tackle Weeds, Pests, and Diseases
The hot, dry summer months can be a prime time for unwanted pests and weeds to make their way into your yard. Be sure to keep up a regular schedule for removing weeds. Walk your property and remove weeds at least once a week, targeting your lawn, garden beds, and the cracks of your deck or hardscaping. When you get rid of invasive weeds early in the summer, you can help prevent these intruders from pollinating and wreaking even more havoc in the fall.
Be on the lookout for additional signs of trouble, as well. For instance? If you notice a powdery, brown patch on your lawn, this could be due to a fungal disease, which can be treated with store-bought fungicide. Grubs also begin hatching over summer; these little bugs can cause significant harm to your lawn, and attract hungry animals who may cause even more damage. In most cases, grubs can be controlled with products available at most lawn and garden stores.
4.) Give Your Lawn the Nourishment It Needs
Are there empty, undergrown areas sticking out on your lawn? If you notice that patches of your yard are thinning, you may want to take some time during the summer to reseed these bare areas. Be patient, and do not overwater these newly planted areas.
Similarly, lawn care experts agree that you should avoid fertilizing your lawn in the summer, when the weather is hot. Instead, apply fertilizer early in the spring, or wait until the fall. Your lawn needs the nutrients provided by fertilizers more during these cooler parts of the year.
Finally, if you’re interested in learning more about your lawn and garden, you may want to do a soil test during the summer. These store-bought tests can allow you analyze the composition of your property’s earth, allowing you to get a better understanding of what nutrients your soil may need to keep your plants looking and feeling their best down the line.
5.) Keep Up the Rest of Your Landscaping
While your patch of lawn may demand a lot of attention, don’t forget to take a few extra steps to care for your other landscaping elements during the summer months. Be sure to regularly water and mulch your flower beds, and the areas around your trees and shrubs. Regularly check for dead or dying flowers, trim back your herbs and veggies, and keep your hedges and bushes well-manicured.
Similarly, remember to regularly brush and sweep your porches, patios, pathways, and driveway, to keep these areas clean and ready for summer guests.
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