While the Dog Days of Summer are officially mid-July to mid-August, here in Missouri, the climate is anything but predictable. Most Summers are blazing hot! And even though the Dog Days are usually behind us by late August, the occasional heatwave can extend the summer season well into September. 

If you live in the midwest, you know that during these hot summer months, it rarely rains, leaving most of our yards dry, brown, and scorched. You might be wondering what, if anything, can be done to keep your lawn green and healthy. 

That’s where we come in! At Stork Landscaping, we have years of experience in maintaining healthy lawns, regardless of the season, and we want to share some of those insights with you. 

Here are a few strategies we recommend to keep your lawn healthy through the hottest months mother nature has to offer.

1. Watering

Obviously, watering your lawn is the first thing people think of, but there are a few things to be aware of when watering your lawn in the hot summer months. It’s always best to water your lawn in the early morning hours; the earlier, the better. When watered in the heat of the day, the water drops can act as a magnifying glass, amplifying the effects of the sun’s harmful rays on your grass. Additionally, the watering loses its effectiveness in the heat of the day.

On the other hand, night time watering invites pests and potentially harmful mold to spread across your lawn. Early morning hours are best.

Lastly, it’s better to give your lawn one, deep watering once a week than it is to provide a daily shallow watering. 1 to 1.5 inches is most beneficial for your grass to stay strong and healthy, whether through rainfall or irrigation. A good rule of thumb is to water your lawn for 20 minutes twice a week. Homeowners with timer-based sprinkler systems should account for rainfall to avoid overwatering their lawns.

2. Mowing for Maintenance

Right behind watering, mowing is the second most significant factor in keeping your lawn healthy during the Summer. It’s easy to allow grass to grow too tall and it’s just as easy to mow them too short. Where’s the fine line, you ask? The answer is between 3 and 4 inches.

In the early Summer, 3 inches is best because it decreases the number of weeds and shorter grass calls for less water. But if you cut the grass too short, it will attract more pests and have more trouble maintaining itself through photosynthesis, a process by which the grass uses sunlight to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water. Shorter blades of grass mean less photosynthesis.

As the Summer progresses, however, the grass needs to be kept slightly longer, approximately 4 inches. The longer length provides better shade and helps keep the lawn lush and green.

3. Feeding and Fertilizing

Just like anything else, your lawn needs nutrients to remain healthy all year long, especially in the Summer. It’s essential to feed your lawn with grass food regularly. Regular feedings will help keep your grass healthy, strong, and lush. 

Keeping your lawn thick is a key defense against weeds and the heat. Thick grass keeps the soil cooler, fighting against the heat and, the thicker grass will crowd out unwanted weeds. 

Lastly, it’s important to differentiate grass food and fertilizer. During the hot, Dog Days of Summer, we recommend that you avoid fertilizing on days that exceed 85 degrees. As we’ll see in a minute, fertilizing is best done in late Spring as a means to feed your lawn before the Summer heat or in the fall as a way to replenish your soil and your root system.

4. Proactive Pest Control

Depending on where you live, you could experience a wide variety of pests and insects that may feed on your lawn. Some flying insects may lay eggs in your yard and, when hatched, the young insects will feed on your grass’ roots. Other insects, like grubs, may also join in on the feeding frenzy. 

To keep these pests under control, be sure to use a liquid or granular topical treatment on your lawn.

5. Watch Out for Fungus and Bacteria

While properly watering and mowing your lawn decreases your chances of your lawn contracting fungal or bacterial issues, these issues may still arise.

As mentioned above, be sure to avoid overwatering your lawn. Wet and damp conditions can create a perfect environment for bacterial and fungal growth. Aim to mimic natural rainfall by watering once or twice a week for 20 minutes at a time. 

Next, as the summer months wear on, you might consider bagging and exposing of the grass clippings. If bacteria and fungus are present on your lawn, leaving these clippings can help the problems spread across your lawn.

Post Dog Days Strategies

While this could be an entire post of its own, we did want to leave you with a few things you can do when the Dog Days of Summer are well behind us.

Once Summer is over, your lawn’s nitrogen needs will be at their highest. Again, avoid fertilizing on days that exceed 85 degrees, but be sure to replenish your lawn during the late Summer. This will help build a durable turf and help develop the root system, making them more weed-, pest-, and drought-resistant for the future. This feeding will be the most crucial, as it will prepare your lawn for the Fall and Winter seasons.

The last thing we recommend post Summer is seeding. Seeding your lawn will help repair damage caused by drought, pests, and disease, and whether it appears to need it or not, seeding is a great idea pre-Fall. Be sure to match your seed to the conditions of your lawn. Seed varieties are available for various conditions such as sandy or rocky soil, high-traffic areas, and even shady, low-light areas.

At Stork Landscaping, we want you to have the most beautiful lawn on the block, and we help these tips and tricks help you do just that. But if you ever need more specific lawn advice, soil testing, maintenance, or support, give our experienced team of experts a call.