Keeping Lawn Healthy Through the End of Summer & Preparing for Fall Maintenance
Typically in mid-August, there are plenty of long, hot and dry days ahead that may further stress your lawn after weeks of similarly taxing conditions. While mid-August daylight hours in Southeastern Wisconsin are at least an hour shorter than in July, the effects of drought-like conditions, which typically start in mid-July, tend to be more noticeable in August after lawns have struggled to stay healthy under duress. Brown patches due to dormant or diseased grass are a common sight, and homeowners are forced to temper both expectations and efforts to keep healthy lawns green.
As many lawn experts and enthusiasts are well aware, brown does not always mean dead, as healthy grass is resilient. After periods of drought, lawns often turn brown, just awaiting the next rainstorm. And, while the appearance of lawns in August may not meet the ideals of homeowners who have been diligent about preparing their grass for the punishing conditions that summertime may yield, it is important not to force growth or “green” when conditions are not right, to continue on the path of the healthiest lawn.
Proper watering techniques are always at the top of the list for keeping lawns healthy year-round, as the need and frequency changes with the season. Fertilizing, aeration, herbicides and pesticides are also necessary year-round concerns to round out proper lawn maintenance, but timing is everything. When grass is under drought conditions, it is important to have the lawn return to strong growth conditions before certain treatments can be applied. Mowing techniques are also crucial at this time, as longer cuts are beneficial for keeping lawns healthy and productive.
The heat of summer can display deficiency in lawn care like no other time of the year, when grass is under duress. However, fertilizer application during the summer months can be particularly damaging to your lawn’s health, creating a flush of fresh growth that cannot withstand hot summer weather. Spring and fall conditions are best for these applications. However, weeds, insects and lawn diseases are all trouble spots to address at this time of year, as their presence becomes known by easily identifiable trouble spots.
Dormant or stressed lawns in August tend to be more susceptible to insect infestations and fungal diseases. Grubs also begin hatching mid-summer, and, if their presence is noted, this is the time to apply grub control. As all of these issues will affect lawn health for the fall and the ensuing seasons, it is important to address these concerns now before permanent damage occurs. With regards to weed control, targeted post-emergent herbicides can be applied when temperatures are below 85 degrees for a few consistent days; otherwise, hand-pulling weeds is prudent to avoid weeds blooming and dispersing seeds for the next year.
Keeping your lawn healthy and beautiful is a year-round concern. Summer is the high growth season as well as a high activity and stress-inducing season. Vigilance and pro-active lawn care will ensure continued health and minimize maintenance.