Summer can be a brutal season in the south, with high temperatures, oppressive humidity and frequent thunderstorms, not to mention heavy use from pets and children. Properly cared for, however, your lawn can thrive all summer long.
To give your lawn the best of southern hospitality during the summer…
- Consider your turf type, and if necessary, replace sod or reseed the lawn with appropriate warm weather, durable grass suitable for southern climates, such as Bermuda grass, carpetgrass or zoysia grass. Changing the turf is better done in the spring or fall, but it can help your lawn be ready for summer stress.
- Raise your mower's height to leave grass slightly longer. This will provide better shade and protection to the soil, preserving water and minimizing weeds. A mulching mower is best for thick southern lawns and will leave the clippings to decay on the lawn for abundant nitrogen.
- Avoid mowing when grass is brittle and dry, as the cutting will more heavily stress and damage the grass. Instead, mow as soon as the grass is dry after the lawn has been watered or after rain so the grass is supple and more easily cut.
- Mow your lawn more frequently, trimming no more than one-third of its total height each time. This will encourage the grass to grow stronger, deeper roots so it can withstand periods of drought even during the hottest summer.
- Water your lawn in the early morning so less moisture is lost to evaporation but there is no time for excess standing water to cause rot or fungus. Longer, more thorough waterings done less frequently are best, and sprinklers should be adjusted whenever it rains so the lawn is not overwatered.
- Fertilize your lawn as needed for its soil type and overall condition. Many southern lawns do not need strong summer fertilizing, but some treatments may be necessary for an overly stressed lawn or newly established turf.
- Dig small weeds or weed patches out by hand or use a spot application of an appropriate herbicide rather than stress the entire lawn with excessive or unnecessary chemicals. Be sure to use the proper application for the right types of weeds if needed.
- Consider planting additional trees and shrubs as borders or accent plants that will help shade the lawn. These new plantings can also be more water-wise than a large lawn, and will require less care.
Even in the harsh conditions of a southern summer, it's possible to give your lawn the best care for strong, healthy turf that will be lush and green all season long.