Summer is a time to enjoy being outside with your family. Barbecues and playing games in the yard are integral parts of the summertime experience. However, summer can wreak havoc on the health of your lawn, with extended hours of heat and warm weather pests. Having a professional company handle your lawn care and maintenance can leave you with a beautiful lawn all summer long - and leave you with enough time to enjoy it.
Lawn maintenance professionals know where to look for evidence of current or future insect and lawn disease problems and can usually stop the problems before they become serious threats to your lawn. The following tips are great for those who handle their own lawn care and maintenance and also serve as a great way to check up on your lawn in-between professional visits.
Lawn Grubs are a unique problem in lawns, because they work underground where they can't be seen while doing their damage. They feed on tender grass roots, which cuts off the lawn's source of water and nutrients. Lawn grubs are actually the larvae of a variety of beetles that lay their eggs in the summer, beneath the soil surface in the lawn. The eggs soon hatch and the larvae devour grass roots. Although the damage is done at that time, it may not show up until weeks or months later (when it is far too late to do anything about it).
Left untreated, the lawn will eventually turn brown and die. In severe cases, all the roots are severed and the sod can be rolled up like a carpet. To help prevent this, most lawn care professionals offer season-long protection against damaging lawn grubs with as little as one application.
Sod Webworms are one of the most common insect pests. Webworms are difficult to spot in a lawn since they're small and tend to stay at the soil surface (where they feed on the crowns of grass plants). Lawn care pros are trained to recognize the early signs of webworm damage. However, the best way to deal with sod webworms is to stop them before they start. Webworms are the larvae of small, tan colored moths that can be seen flitting about the lawn when the grass is disturbed. A few moths are normal in a lawn, but large numbers indicate that it's time to use a control to stop the larvae that will hatch soon after the eggs are laid.
Unwanted pests are not the only cause of brown, unsightly lawns. As summer temperatures rise, conditions are ripe for the infestation of lawn diseases such as dollar spot and brown patch disease. Here are the common symptoms of these lawn diseases to watch out for:
Dollar spot starts as individual brown spots about the size of a silver dollar. As the spots increase in number, they begin to join together, forming larger brown areas. If the disease is allowed to reach this stage, recovery can be slow, reducing the beauty of your lawn.
Brown Patch Disease starts in small patches a few inches in diameter and grows to cover large areas of lawn. Frequently, a "smoke ring" of dark-gray, spider-web-like mycelium may surround the area.
Proper mowing and watering habits are critical to maintaining your lawn throughout the hot dry summer.
On average a lawn needs 1 to 1.5 inches of water a week through irrigation, rainfall or a combination of the two. It is best to water less frequently and applying more water each time. For example, watering twice a week and applying 0.5 to 0.75 inches of water each time is more effective than watering a little bit every day. Infrequent, deep watering encourages a deeper root system which should cause your lawn to be more tolerant to drought over time.
As the temperatures climb during the summer months raise your mowing height one or two notches until you are cutting at the maximum cutting height your mower allows by mid-summer. A lawn that is mowed high is less stressed and can more easily withstand the rigors of heat and drought. Keep you mower blades sharp to ensure a clean cut. Not only does this improve the appearance of your lawn, but also prevents the shredded grass blades that are a haven for disease spores.
Follow these tips and you can enjoy the comfort of a lush, green lawn all summer long.