In Ontario and most parts of Canada, we’ve had yet another incredibly dry summer. While many of us have been more than thrilled with what seems like endless sunny days, lawns everywhere are feeling the brunt of the dryness. For many homeowners, dealing with their lawns during these intense dry periods can be a frustrating ordeal.
Instead of giving up completely, consider embracing the opportunities for your lawn heading into the fall and winter months. There is a science behind lawn care and timing is a crucial component to having a well-balanced, healthy-looking lawn. In fact, lawn care professionals and horticulturalists alike recommend a late summer tune-up in order to keep your lawn healthy into the winter months.
Here are two simple things to consider doing this month:
1. Look for signs of lawn disease and pest damage. August is the ideal month to combat certain lawn diseases and pests because late summer is when most insects lay their eggs, which remain in the ground over the winter. Some of the diseases you should be on the lookout for include summer patch disease, fungal diseases such as brown patch and dollar spots, and damage caused by a drought or flood.
Lawn pests that are especially active towards the latter part of summer include yellow chinch bugs, mole crickets and spittlebugs. In most cases, lawn diseases and pests can be dealt with by applying an environmentally friendly lawn care treatment. By dealing with these issues now, you will not only avoid further damage to your lawn, but you likely won’t have to deal with them again in the spring, making springtime gardening a much easier task.
2. Consider late summer fertilization and seeding treatments. Most lawns are fertilized in the spring, but by September the effects will begin to wear off. Just like in the spring, grass enters a new phase of growth in late summer, providing an ideal time to fertilize yet again. Not to be confused with the late fall fertilization treatment (three applications should be done annually), late summer fertilization or “bridge treatment” as industry insiders call it, should be done just after the summer heat and before the grass goes dormant. It is recommended that you contact your local lawn care specialist or greenhouse to determine how much and what type of fertilizer should be used.
Most horticulturalists and lawn care specialists also agree that late summer and fall is an ideal time to establish new lawns or overseed damaged ones. It is recommended that you begin this process in mid-August and complete it by the end of September.
While it is important to consider these recommendations for your lawn during this time of year, there are other common problems that should also be taken into consideration year-round. For example, mowing your lawn too short can cause great stress to the grass. When cutting the grass, don’t cut off more than 2/3 of the length of the grass blade.
Another common problem is over- and under-watering your lawn, and watering at the wrong times. It is suggested that homeowners water their lawns in the morning when moisture levels are at their peak. Lawns typically require about one inch of water a week during the growing season to stay green and continue actively growing. Anything more or less can damage the grass over time. This amount will vary depending on the weather, but during periods of extremely dry or hot weather, such as the weather we’ve been experiencing here in Ontario, be sure to check with your local municipality for any water usage bans. If you have an in-ground water system, late summer or early fall is also a good time to have the system inspected and tuned-up.
For more information and tips on how to care for your lawn, contact your local lawn care specialist or greenhouse.