July lawn tips, what to do when you take a vacation

A few easy steps can save your lawn during summer vacation

July is a month where your home lawn can be easily neglected due to many New Englanders seeking out the beach or mountain lakes on summer vacation.  There is a short checklist that can prevent some issues and provide peace of mind while you are away enjoying those early morning beach walks.

Before you depart, make sure your lawn is cut the day before you leave if possible.  If you have a mowing service, the task of mowing is not really an issue.  If you mow yourself, a cut the day before will normally give you a solid 7 to 10 day time frame in which to return without the lawn having grown too long.  In fact, during a hot July period, it is better to go 2 weeks without mowing if the air temperature is in the 80’s and rainfall is absent.  If you return and your grass is really tall, such as over 6”, removal of your clippings is recommended or be sure to rake up the rows of cut grass.

Have your lawn inspected for insect activity; left unchecked, under ideal weather conditions you can lose a lawn in days without curative action.  I have seen a number of lawns with sod webworm damage with the characteristic tan moth taking flight as you walk near.  These small patches are fist size in nature and can coalesce into larger stripes or patches if not treated during the summer months.

Although this season has been on the humid and warm side, promoting diseases over insect activity, a professional lawn evaluation is worth the peace of mind.  If your lawn has confirmed disease issues, it may well be worth a fungicide application to “clean things up” during the July/August period where serious injury can occur.  Summer diseases can easily appear to be drought or insect activity.  Hot weather and warm nights can bring on blotches and spots in mere hours without you realizing the culprit.  You may awake and look out the kitchen window only to ask “Those patches were not there yesterday, were they?”  Thatchy lawns are particularly prone to summer patch diseases, manifesting as scars and pits when placed under stress.

Irrigation or lawn watering is helpful during dry periods but is not necessary during a standard summer vacation.  If you have a sprinkler system or a friend to water, be sure to water in the am or day versus late afternoon, thus minimizing disease issues.  As always, infrequent deep watering is preferred over frequent light watering to promote deeper root systems and minimize disease.  A 1hr watering every other day is generally preferred over a daily 15 minute watering.  Don’t let your lawn stop you from enjoying a great July summer vacation.

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2 Responses

  1. sherri says:

    You recommend watering for an hour ever other day. I have seen many recommendations to water just an inch once per week. Why is there such a variation in watering recommendations.

    • MrGrass says:

      Great question Sherry. In high heat, like the current weather, a great deal of water evaporates during the day. A one hour soaking will only yield a 1/4″ or so of moisture- this is only a rough guideline- factors such as shade, thatch depth, slope, and soil types are additional variables which would determine actual desired soaking times. Don’t worry so much about the 1″ of water as keeping your lawn alive in a drought or high heat situation like our current weather pattern. You may have areas which require less irrigation or more than my “general” recommendation, you may be able to skip a day here or there. The real key is whether or not the turf is dormant or under severe stress, brown or dull purple. You cannot over do the watering in high heat so long as you don’t let the lawn go into the night wet- which will most certainly promote bad diseases in humid, warm nights. Best of luck to you.

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