The secret to keeping your yard thriving throughout the summer lies in the lawn care techniques you implement during the spring. By getting started early in the year, you’ll develop a resilient lawn that’s resistant to the effects of the sun, weeds, pests and heavy foot traffic. Follow these guidelines to prepare your yard to grow nice and green for the summer.
- Aerate your lawn to promote the healthy formation of the root system.Aeration allows the grass to breathe, and also enables water and nutrients reach the root system more efficiently. Failure to aerate your lawn sufficiently will make it much more difficult for grass and plants to survive during the hottest part of the season.
Perform the process in the autumn if your lawn is a cool-season grass, like bluegrass or ryegrass. If you live in a climate where warm-season grasses thrive, aerate in early spring.
Many experts suggest aerating your lawn every 1 to 3 years, but high-traffic areas may require more frequent attention.
- Rake your lawn to remove thatch and other debris.Go over your lawn from end to end with a rake to clear it of thatch, or decaying plant material, that has accumulated on the ground. A thick layer of thatch can block sunlight and prevent water from reaching deep down to the roots of the grass. Dethatch in late autumn while you’re raking leaves to prepare your yard for the summer.
Consider raking again in spring, particularly if your lawn shows evidence of compaction.
- Fertilize the yard according to the type of grass you have.Fertilizers supplement the nutrients found in your lawn’s soil and keeps grass growing thick and lush. Apply fertilizer at least twice a year during the peak growing seasons of your lawn. Scale back fertilizing about 30 days before the highest summer temperatures hit.
Cool-season grasses: lawns comprised of these types of grasses should be fertilized during early spring and at the onset of fall. Use fertilizer with higher nitrogen concentrations when fertilizing in autumn to ensure the survival of the grass.
Warm-season grasses: these varieties flourish during the summer months. A nitrogen-rich fertilizer should be spread in the spring, when the lawn shows its first signs of vibrancy. Fertilize again in late summer.
- Reseed bare patches.This should be done prior to your grass’s peak growing season, preferably in the fall. Till the soil and spread the seed evenly across the bare spot to fill in gaps in the lawn growth. Use a standard fertilizer and water the area as you normally would.
Add nitrogen-rich fertilizer after the seeds have germinated to ensure robust growth.
Maintaining Your Yard
- Mow the grass regularly.Mowing should be done roughly once a week, though how fast your grass will grow will depend on climate conditions. Keep grass cut to a height of about 2.5 to 3”, except in the hottest part of the summer, when you should let it grow about half an inch longer. Mowing keeps grass growing at a healthy rate and makes your lawn look neat and manicured.
Grass needs to grow slightly longer in the hottest summer months to provide shade for its roots and conserve moisture in the soil. Be careful not to cut more than about 1/3 of the blade at a time, as this can cause structural damage to the grass that inhibits growth.
Make sure you give your lawn mower a checkup before bringing it out of winter hibernation. Dull blades should be sharpened, tires should be inflated and there should be a sufficient amount of oil in the motor.
- Prune trees and shrubs.Trim dead and excess growth off of trees and shrubs in your yard. Pruning promotes healthy growth by eliminating parts of the shrub that are dead, infested with harmful insects or damaged by weather. It also allows you to shape the growth of the tree or shrub, resulting in a more aesthetic appearance.
Look for dead and damaged limbs to prune first. These will usually be identifiable by their colorless appearance and lack of living thriving foliage. At best, dead limbs are an eyesore; at worst, disease can spread to the rest of the shrub.
Always remove any tree limbs that extend precariously over driveways, walkways or any place in that yard where people tend to gather. These can be become a hazard if they fall.
- Set up a sprinkler system for consistent watering.Your grass and plants need copious amounts of water to survive in the dry summer heat. Even in areas that receive a lot of rainfall, natural moisture might not be enough to keep your greenery healthy on its own. Set up a sprinkler system to run every 24 hours to ensure that your lawn and surrounding plants are being effectively irrigated.
It’s best to water slowly and gradually to allow water to penetrate to the root level and avoid runoff. Having your sprinkler system set to a timer and moving in smooth, sweeping motions can accomplish this.
Water your yard at night or in the cool early morning hours so that the moisture is going straight to the grass rather than being evaporated by heat.
- Keep pests under control.Inspect flower bushes, shrubs and fruit trees periodically for garden pests like aphids, grasshoppers, slugs and snails. These little critters like to make a meal out of the leaves of flowering plants, which can compromise the health of the plant. Remove larger offenders by hand or with a water hose and treat plants with natural pesticides to keep pests away from the plant in the future.
Plants are natural habitats to many different kinds of animals and insects, and some are more destructive than others. It might be a good idea to do some research on the kind of pests that populate your area so that you can tell a harmless bug from an unwelcome one.
If you grow fruits or vegetables, watch out for larger grazing animals like rabbits and deer. If left unchecked, they can ruin weeks of hard gardening work in a matter of days.
- Use mulch to keep plants growing.Spread a thin layer of mulch over the base of plants during the height of the summer heat. Mulch is full of beneficial soil nutrients and is dense enough to protect a plant’s roots and stalk from the sun. Mulching in conjunction with frequent watering will ensure that your plants never go thirsty.
Mulch can be bought cheap at any gardening center, or you can easily make your own from the brush in your yard using a wood chipper or shredder.