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.