Preparing your lawn for the heat of a North Carolina summer can be a tough task, but having a lush green landscape is worth the extra effort. Follow these tips
Preparing your lawn for the heat of a North Carolina summer can be a tough task, but having a lush green landscape is worth the extra effort. Follow these tips from Dustin Adcock, a Field Crops and Horticulture Extension Agent in Stanly County, to prep your lawn.
Lawn grasses are separated into two groups: cool-season (Northern grass) and warm-season (Southern grass). Cool-season grasses grow best in temperatures between 65° and 75°, while warm-season grasses thrive in temperatures between 80° and 95°. Both types are grown in North Carolina, with cool-season grasses supplying year-round green. Adcock advises identifying which one you have so you can provide it the proper care.
When your lawn is riddled with brown patches, it’s tempting to keep adding fertilizer and seed. If you have a cool-season grass, hold off on the maintenance. Unless your situation is dire, Adcock suggests waiting until early fall. “Timely fertilization and seeding are key,” he says. “Having this already completed in the fall can improve the lawn for the remainder of the year.”
Summer is peak growing season. When your lawn is ready for a fresh cut, Adcock recommends mowing high. “Grass should be left to about 3 to 4 inches tall,” he says. “Cutting your grass too much and too short can weaken the root system.” When you’re finished mowing, skip the cleanup! Leaving the leftover grass clippings is an excellent source of nutrition for your lawn.
Lawns need to breathe, too! Removing small plugs of thatch and soil from your lawn allows natural aeration to take place. The simplest way to do this is by using a push garden fork, and pressing it into the ground at 15-centimeter intervals across your entire lawn. This process not only improves air exchange but also improves your grass’s heat tolerance.
You can usually tell your lawn is ready for a nice, cool drink when the color darkens or when the grass stays down instead of springing up. In our state, keeping your lawn hydrated during hot summer months is critical — but don’t go overboard. “You don’t want to over-water,” Adcock says. “Use a rain gauge to measure how much water is being delivered during certain intervals — this prevents needless runoff.”
Here in the South, we’re all too familiar with the foot stinging, shoe throwing burn of a fire ant. Some folks grab gasoline to eliminate the threat, but this can be very dangerous. “Pouring gasoline or other harmful chemicals onto your lawn is not just harmful but has also never been technically proven to be effective,” Adcock says. Instead, take charge of the invasion by using a safe bait treatment, adding the directed amounts of application as instructed by your product.
Have more questions? Contact the NC Cooperative Extension of Stanly County: (704) 983-3987 or stanly.ces.ncsu.edu.