Stay Green: Expert Lawn Watering Tips for Summer
Maintaining a lawn during the scorching summer months requires a strategic approach.
Reducing or even stopping mowing is one watering tip for summer. Allowing the grass to grow slightly taller provides shade for the soil, reducing evaporation. Additionally, adjusting the mower height to the highest setting helps retain moisture in the grass blades.
You must also understand turf dormancy; some grass types naturally go dormant in extreme heat, so don’t panic if your lawn appears brown and crunchy.
Utilize an irrigation system with proper zoning and timers to ensure consistent and efficient watering. Consider supplementing traditional watering with alternative methods, such as drip irrigation or soaker hoses directly targeting the roots.
By implementing these watering tips for summer, you can maintain a thriving lawn even in the hottest months.
Watering Tips for Summer: Understanding Your South-Central PA Lawn’s Watering Needs
Do you know what type of grass is growing in your Berks County or Dauphin County, PA lawn? Since south-central Pennsylvania has frigid winters, all properties should have a cool season turfgrass blend.
Cool season turfgrass blends contain a mix of Kentucky bluegrass, rough bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fine fescues, tall fescue and bentgrasses.
When heatwaves hit our area, cool season turfgrass will go dormant or semi-dormant until temperatures cool and it rains.
Also, south-central PA has clay soil, which is heavy soil that compacts easily but holds moisture for longer.
While intuitively, you may want to water your lawn every night for an hour or longer, you’re doing more harm than good to your lawn.
Turfgrass experts recommend watering your turfgrass infrequently and only give your lawn 1” to 1 ½” of water per week. And if it rains that week, subtract the amount of rain from 1” to 1 ½” total to see how much you should water your lawn during that rainy week.
Also, don’t panic when your lawn goes into dormancy or semi-dormancy. You’ll see stressed turfgrass when the grass is crunchy underfoot and when it goes from green to tan. Your turfgrass will green up again when regular rain returns and the temperatures get cooler.
Generally speaking, your turfgrass will thrive in cooler temperatures, especially in spring and fall, and will go dormant during the peak of summer, July and August.
Watering Tips for Summer: Essential Watering Techniques to Help Your PA Lawn Survive a Heat Wave
Again, your goal for watering your lawn includes watering deeply, allowing the 1” to 1 ½” of water to go down to 4”–6” into the soil.
You can measure soil depth with a soil probe or a screwdriver. Hand-watering with a garden hose will not accomplish this task, so consider using an in-ground lawn sprinkler.
Rule of thumb: Don’t set it and forget when watering your lawn.
Instead, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) recommends a soak and cycle for clay soils that allow water to soak into the ground after 15 minutes of watering. You can set your timer to go off every 15 minutes for a set period.
The soak-and-cycle method also keeps water from pooling and running off into stormwater drains. Plus, you save money on your water bill when you use these short bursts of irrigation at 15-minute intervals.
If you don’t have a lawn sprinkler system, soaker hoses will help your lawn get that 1” to 1 ½” of water it needs weekly. You can put a timer on your soaker hoses to shut off after 15 minutes, where you can practice the soak-and-cycle irrigation method.
Additionally, you want to water your lawn between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. If you have an in-ground lawn sprinkler, you can set this accordingly.
If you haven’t had your in-ground lawn sprinkler checked in the last few years, you need to hire an irrigation contractor to give your system an audit. An irrigation audit includes ensuring no leaking valves, all lines are working, and your lawn is getting even water coverage.
Watering Tips for Summer: Maintaining a Healthy Lawn During the Summer
There are other considerations you, the homeowner, can do to ensure your lawn makes it through a hot, dry spell. Here are six cultural practices you need to perform to guarantee a healthy lawn this summer:
- Ensure your mower has sharp blades
Late winter or early spring is a great time to take your mower to a dealer for blade sharpening. You only want to cut your turfgrass with sharp blades because dull ones will tear the turfgrass, opening it up to disease and insect infestation.
- Only mow your lawn at 3-4” during the summer.
While you may think that scalping or cutting your lawn every week is essential, it’s better when your turfgrass grows longer. It helps shade the ground, and it crowds out weeds.
Avoid mowing when your lawn has entered dormancy during a heatwave. You don’t want to stress it more than needed, and since it’s not growing, it doesn’t need mowing.
- Consider leaving chopped grass clippings on your yard
At one time, homeowners believed grass clippings were terrible for your lawn. Quite the opposite is true. If you have a mulching component to your lawn mower, the turfgrass blades get chopped up. You’re giving your turfgrass up to 25% nitrogen by leaving those small clippings on your lawn.
Since grass clippings are mostly made up of water, they’ll disintegrate into the soil quickly—not making your lawn or your house messy with heavy grass clippings.
- Plan to have your lawn aerated in the early fall
After a hot, dry summer, your property and soil are exhausted. When we aerate your lawn in early fall, our aerators will take plugs of dirt out of the ground so the earth can breathe.
At Tomlinson Bomberger, we recommend aerating your lawn every two years. On the off years, we recommend dethatching if the turfgrass has more than half an inch of thatch.
- Stay on a regular fertilization program
Commit to a regular lawn maintenance program, preferably from a professional lawn care company. The pros use the best fertilizer for your soil. Plus, they’ll test your soil before putting down nutrients so your lawn gets the proper nutrition based on the soil test results.
The soil test will also indicate whether the ground needs other amendments to make it loamy or the pH more suitable for turfgrass health.
- Prevent lawn diseases, excess weeds, and insect infestation
Consider a lawn program with pre-emergent and broadleaf weed controls, grub control, and other programs that prevent turf diseases.
How Tomlinson Bomberger Keeps Your Lawn Healthy This Summer
Looking to make your south-central Pennsylvania lawn look its absolute best? Look no further than Tomlinson Bomberger.
We’ve got you covered with top-notch lawn care services that will leave your turfgrass thriving and beautiful. Don’t wait any longer—contact us today at 717-399-1991 or fill out our contact form.
Tomlinson Bomberger offers various services, including lawn care, landscape, pest control, and tree care to homeowners in south-central Pennsylvania counties, including Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, and York.
EPA.gov, Cycle-and-Soak Saves Water Outdoors (pdf).
Irrigation.org, The Homeowner’s Guide to Landscape Irrigation (pdf)
Extension.PSU.edu (Penn State Extension), Lawn Management through the Seasons.
Ibid, Turfgrass Species for Pennsylvania.
UpperProvidence.org, Watering & Alternative Practices.