By Kaitlyn Ersek on May 4, 2023 9:30:00 AM
Summer is just around the corner. From drought to insects, are your customers’ lawns ready for the stress that summer brings? Regardless of the turf species or soil conditions, summer can wreak havoc on healthy lawns. In this blog, we discuss 5 Tips for conquering summer lawn stress.
- Feeding the Turf
- Beware the Mower
- Supplementing Irrigation
- Monitoring of Pests and Diseases
- Setting Customer Expectations
Feeding the Turf
During the summer months, depending on where you are located, turf begins to lose some of its green color. It’s also highly vulnerable to stress. To maintain color, and cope with and recover from stress, turf needs at least “some” nutrition.
Apply fertilizers at light rates to actively growing turf areas using primarily slow-release nitrogen sources. This will provide a slow feeding to the turf throughout the summer season, while minimizing the risk of burning the turf.
Be sure to check out HGX Pro Blue Sky 21-0-0 as a solution to summer feeding. Blue Sky is pumped with 60% slow-release nitrogen (methylated urea and triazone) and 40% urea to enhance growth and color for extended results throughout the season. It also contains microbe food sources to feed the soil microbes, and nutrient enhancers to increase nutrient uptake by the plant.
Another product to research is HGX Pro Bio 800+ Turf, an organic plant probiotic that provides an army of over 800 species of soil microbes. During the summer months, HGX Pro Bio 800+ Turf will be focused on providing stress recovery and fortifying plant strength. When used all year round, it will drive root growth and improve soil health conditions, both of which are critical to proactively managing summer stress.
Beware the Mower
Whether you offer mowing as a service to customers or if your customers DIY their mowing, knowing the appropriate mowing strategy is critical to maintaining healthy turf. This time of the year, some will raise their mowing heights. While this is not a bad strategy, it is not always practical for everyone.
In general, “I suggest a 3” mowing height for most cool-season turf properties, and maintain this cutting height throughout the growing season,” explains Cale A. Bigelow, Ph.D., Professor of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Purdue University, in an interview with Holganix staff. “Of course, there are always exceptions, but more leaf surface area normally means deeper rooting.” Lawns with a healthy root system are better equipped to handle weather stressors like heat because the roots can mine for minerals, nutrients, and water, deeper within the soil.
One big mistake we see in summer-related mowing, especially when it comes to homeowners DIYing their mowing, is “mechanical damage”. That’s when a homeowner or contractor is not paying attention and attempts to mow stressed turf areas, including when the turf is too wet or too dry. Damage of this sort is more likely to occur in the summer when the turf is already in a weakened state.
If your customers are DIYing their own mowing, you can get ahead of issues like mowing height and mechanical damage by being their go-to authority on lawn care. We suggest writing a letter or creating a short how-to-video to homeowners, providing tips for summer lawn care practices like mowing. This letter can be recycled into an email blast and blog article for your digital marketing efforts.
Advising homeowners to supplement their irrigation is ideal to maintain turf health and color, but be very aware of local regulations around water supply in high drought areas! However, just as irrigation is important, issues can also arise from overwatering in the summer compared to when the turf is allowed to go dormant (as Mother Nature intended). “Allow at least one drying day between cycles to let the water drain into the soil and soil gases, like oxygen, to exchange,” explains Bigelow.
Lack of water is another time when lawns with a deep root system are better equipped to thrive because roots are better able to search for water deeper into the soil structure.
Monitoring for Pests and Diseases
Issues caused by insects and diseases are most commonly expressed in the summer. This is particularly true if the turf is under a lot of heat stress, lacks vigor, or is malnourished.
In general, a dense, healthy, actively growing turf is less susceptible to disease and pests. “Actively growing turf will experience fewer damaging problems, but scouting and an awareness of prevailing weather conditions can help manage these pests,” explains Bigelow.
Some issues to be aware of include, but are not limited to, dollar spot (relatively easy to manage with proper nutrition), summer patches, white grubs, chinch bugs, and sod webworms.
Managing Customer Expectations
Being in the lawn care industry in the summer is never an easy task. Lawns, even in good condition for summer, are rarely picture-perfect. Good communication with customers in the summertime is critical to managing expectations.
Talk to customers on the phone, send them a letter, email them, or create a mini video to keep them in the loop on what they should expect this summer. Don’t be afraid to rope them in on being part of the solution by providing them with mowing and irrigation tips, or by letting them know about the disease and insect issues that may occur, so they can alert you to any problems before they become difficult to solve.