Summertime Tips For Your Lawn

Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Shawn Lancaster, Mississippi County Cooperative Extension Agriculture Agent

You “must love your lawn,” as summertime progresses unless you want a weed patch. A beautiful lawn doesn’t happen by itself. Bermudagrass is the most commonly used lawn grass in Arkansas. It will grow on a wide variety of soil types as long as there is adequate drainage and plenty of sunlight. This includes most yards in Mississippi County.

The suggested maintenance will help you care for your lawn throughout the warmest months of the year. Every site is different due to variations in location, terrain, soil type, condition of lawn, previous lawn care, and other factors. Adjust these practices to suit your home lawn.

Bermudagrass is not a shade grass. Full sun is required for it to thrive. Other attractive traits include rapid recovery from traffic damage and outstanding drought tolerance. Durability and the ability to recover quickly make it the first choice for high use areas. Established bermudagrass will turn brown during extended dry periods but recover after the first significant rainfall. It is a fast grower, which makes it a cheaper sod than slower growing grasses.

Summertime lawn care for bermudagrass includes the increase of frequency of mowing, fertilization, and rainfall or irrigation. Because bermudagrass is a fast grower that produces rhizomes and stolons, it readily invades ornamental beds, gardens and requires frequent edging along walks and driveways. The following lawn care calendar will help your lawn thrive during the hottest months of the year.

June Through August

Mowing:

Bermudagrass should be mowed every five to seven days and less often when the lawn is drought stressed.

Fertilizing:

Apply 0.5 to 1.0 pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet every four to six weeks using the March through May fertilizing guidelines. The interval between fertilizer applications may be increased by applying a slow-release fertilizer.

Watering:

Water early in the morning to wet the soil to a depth of four to six inches. Probe with a screwdriver to determine moisture depth. Bermudagrass needs a weekly application of 1 to 1.25 inches of water to retain its color during summer. It needs even less to survive and can go several weeks without supplemental irrigation. On sandy soils, it requires more frequent watering: for example, 0.5 inch of water every third day. It is often necessary to irrigate an area for three to five hours to apply one inch of water with most homeowner irrigation systems. (It takes 620 gallons of water to apply one inch of water per thousand square feet.) Because clay soils accept water slowly, irrigate these areas until runoff occurs; wait one half hour until the water has been absorbed, and then continue irrigating until the desired depth or amount is obtained. A dark, bluish gray color, foot-printing and wilted, folded or curled leaves indicate that it is time to water.

Cultivation:

Thatch needs to be removed every two to three years through core aerification or dethatching. Cultivation during the early summer is preferred because moisture is usually not limiting and growth is optimum for recovery. For more information about thatch, see Thatch Prevention and Control, FSA6139.

Insect Control:

Check for insect pests and treat if necessary.

Weed Control:

Apply postemergence herbicides as needed to control summer broadleaf weeds such as spurge, knotweed and lespedeza. For postemergence crabgrass control, apply a product containing quinclorac. Make two applications 14 days apart. Use SedgeHammer® (halosulfuron) for sedge control. Apply postemergence herbicides only when weeds are present, the lawn is actively growing and not suffering from drought. To improve annual bluegrass control, apply a preemergence herbicide on Aug. 15 and water in immediately.

Renovation:

Replant large bare areas using sod or plugs planted on six or 12 inch centers. Applying a preemergence herbicide that does not interfere with root growth after plugging helps prevent weed encroachment. Common bermudagrass can be seeded at 0.5 to 1 pound per thousand square feet. Seeding in spring or early summer will enhance the winter hardiness of bermudagrass seedlings.

September Through November

Mowing:

Bermudagrass should be mowed every five to seven days and less often when the lawn is drought stressed.

Fertilizing:

Apply no more than 0.5 pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet in September, four to six weeks before the first expected frost. Potassium can be applied if soil tests indicate a need. If potassium is needed, use a low-nitrogen, high-potassium fertilizer such as a 10040 or supplement a nitrogen fertilizer source with 1 pound of potash using 1.6 pounds of muriate of potash (0060) per 1,000 square feet. Several manufacturers offer winterizing fertilizers with various combinations of nutrients. When using these products, try to find one that approximates at 4-1-6 ratio of nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium and contains iron, which will extend color into fall. Apply lime during these months if recommended by your soil test.

Watering:

Follow the March through May irrigation guidelines. Dormant bermudagrass may still need to be watered periodically when dry, windy conditions occur for an extended period. Additionally, newly planted sod should be watered during this period to prevent desiccation.

For more information about horticulture, contact the Mississippi County Extension Office.

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