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17 Summer Lawn Care Tips

Top 17 Summer Lawn Care Tips That Professionals Often Overlook

Even if you're a professional landscaper, or running your own landscape business, there are a few lawn and garden situations that can still be perplexing.

Sometimes, long established landscaping rules of thumb can fall by the wayside in the rush to serve all your clients needs.

Here are some landscaping success tips that even the pros sometimes forget:

  • Use the local extension office for sage advice: The USDA's ooperative Extension System offers resources like cheap soil testing, advice about the most successful plants for the local climate, sustainable gardening practices, pest control and more.

  • Test before you leap: It's best not to make any assumptions about the local soil. Conduct soil testing (check with your local extension office for assistance) before grass seed application, to learn the actual nutrient and pH levels. Making corrections in advance will ensure the success of your project.

  • Use certified seed: You’ll get no filler and few weeds to interfere, so you can create a pristine field of grass for your clients.

  • Be generous: Use 3 lbs. of seed per 1000 sq. feet for a lush lawn. Re-seed areas that have suffered from excessive trampling each fall.

  • Turn your mulch: Fluff, rather than adding. When you get above 3”, there can be water absorption problems or insect infestations. Try "fluffing" the existing spread rather than adding more.

  • Maintain medium height: Keep grass at about 3” year round. Depending on your climate, you may not have any grass at certain times of the year. When grass is growing, however, letting it get above 3” throws shade on nearby blades, depriving them of their share of sunlight. (Cut too closely, however, and you could end up with crabgrass.) You do want to effectively shade the ground, however, especially when it’s sunny, as that water evaporates more slowly. Letting grass grow in winter (if this is possible in your area) can lead to mold from rain or snow and wet ground.

  • Cut gradually: Although it might be quicker and more convenient to mow your lawns in one fell swoop, don’t cut more than one-third of the length in one pass. Doing so could deprive the blades of their accumulated nutrients. Set your blade high and make an extra trip later in the week for healthier grass.

  • Maintain the irrigation system: Avoid frozen pipes in winter (depending upon your climate) and make sure the sprinklers turn on reliably for your first watering of the season. Drain water pipes and sprinklers thoroughly before the first freeze.

  • Offer portering services: Stray pieces of trash can ruin the lush green landscape you've created, especially if your client's lawn is in a high traffic area or you're working for an HOA with lots of shared green spaces. Keeping things neat and the area picked up will make you (and your client's property) look good.

  • Watch the weather report: Adjust irrigation schedules according to predicted rainfall levels, so you don't over-water, under-water or waste water.

  • Water less frequently: Provide your 2 inches per week in larger doses. For instance, water twice per week rather than daily, to create deeper root systems and stifle crabgrass growth.

  • Change your perspective: Prevent excessive turf wear and plant-stunting compaction by alternating your mowing direction.

  • Consider dormancy: In dry weather with extreme heat, cut the watering amount to half, and water once per week.

  • Tackle dandelion problems: Add calcium to your soil if it's deficient (see Tip #2). Aerate and de-thatch regularly to prevent dandelion encroachment. Spray any remaining stragglers with vinegar or your go-to weed killer.

  • Cure the evil browns: That brown stuff is fungus. You may need to cut back on nitrogen (fertilizer) and make sure the lawn has the chance to dry out. (Water early and deeply.)

  • Fight that yellow patch: Your soil may be too acidic from overdoing your watering. Correct the iron deficiency with sulfur.

  • Learn what grows best: Here

  • Get off to a good start:Start your seed by watering daily (unlike with mature grass, which can do with once or twice per week) and hold off on mowing until new grass hits the 3-inch mark.