Like any other plants, the grass in your front and backyards needs year round care and attention. While most of the spring is spent preparing lawns for the summer, proper maintenance is needed through the summer months to keep a yard happy and healthy, even in more extreme weather conditions. The summer is when grass is most stressed, and chances are the thought of backbreaking work in the hot sun makes dad stressed too. For Father’s Day this year, why not take care of it for him? He’ll appreciate being able to use the yard to relax instead.
While there are hundreds of varieties of grass and an extensive amount of soil types, there are four basic principles to summer lawn care: water, weed, mow, and feed. Take care of any one of these or put some effort into all four to help dad out throughout the season.
- The image of a lush, green yard is often accompanied by the image of sprinklers watering the yard daily, but this may not be quite right. While lawns do need water, watering too often won’t allow roots to grow as deep and will lead to less hardy grass, but not watering enough will lead to wilting, yellowing grass. How can you help dad find the right balance? Remember that grass needs about 1 inch of water a week, including rainfall. Tips: Start a rain log for dad to keep track of weekly rainfall levels (think farmer’s almanac). Use a tin can and the sprinkler to measure how much water it provides per 15 minutes for more accuracy (if 15 minutes = ¼ inch of water, dad will then know to run the sprinkler for one hour a week during dry weeks and less allowing for rainfall). Or, install a smart controller that measures dryness for dad and waters the yard only when needed, or go the extra mile with an irrigation system.
- Good grass growing conditions are also optimal conditions for weeds like dandelions. Weeds should be taken care of before they have a chance to seed and especially before mowing the lawn (which can help spread the seeds and create more weeds in the future). Tips: Weeds like dandelions are most easily removed by digging up the whole plant, including the entire root. It takes a lot of time and it’s not a lot of fun but dad will appreciate it even more, especially when the weeds don’t come back the way they have before. Other weeds may need to be sprayed, but try to use more natural options.
- Revisit your younger years and mow the lawn for dad this father’s day! Similar to watering, grass needs the right balance of mowing and growing to stay healthy and hearty through the summer. The National Association for Landscape Professionals suggests a finished grass height of 3 to 3.5 inches through the summer months, though this may vary by grass type. Tips: Lawns should be mowed once or twice weekly, but be sure to only cut the top third of the grass blades each time. Offer to come back once through the week after father’s day to really help dad out.
- There are definitely mixed opinions on when the best time to fertilize your yard is and how often afterwards you should fertilize. A first round of fertilizing should have been done in the spring, and many professionals suggest a second round about 2 months later. Tips: Talk to local landscapers in your dad’s area about what types of fertilizer to use and best methods of application. Try to find more natural and less chemical options if possible. Only fertilize when rain is predicted to prevent scorching. Finally, help your dad save money on fertilizer by leaving the grass clippings after mowing - they provide natural nutrients like nitrogen and reduce the amount of fertilizer needed later. Dad will thank you this Father’s Day and for weeks to come!