When it comes to lawn care, summer is very much the time you prepare for throughout the other three seasons, the time when diligent care and preparation really pays off. The UK receives on average 187 hours of sunshine in the summer months, meaning that however patchy the British weather may be, this is the time when you’re likely to get the most use out of your lawn.
Yet all these accumulated barbecues, garden parties and dry spells mean that this is also the time when your lawn is under most stress. Good lawn care in spring can make your lawn more resilient, but some summer lawn care will go a long way to ensuring your lawn looks its best in the sunshine.
A good rule of thumb is to always watch the weather. Much of your lawn upkeep duties – and how often you need to perform them – will depend upon our famously changeable climate. Mowing, watering and feeding will all be subject to expected rain and temperatures, so be sure to keep an eye out.
A good regular weekly mowing regime is worth keeping up during the summer months. Grass will grow a bit slower than in the spring, but it is worth keeping it at around 1 inch in height. A sharp mower is of course essential and it is useful to collect and compost waste organic material, as this can very easily build up.
As always, cutting too short will encourage the growth of weeds and moss. And in periods of relative drought, it is even worth allowing your lawn to grow a little longer. This allows the grass to trap moisture that it would otherwise lose through evaporation and encourages deeper roots.
Similarly, if your lawn goes through a period of particularly high stress (i.e. if good weather leads to a period of increased use) you should also reduce the amount of mowing and allow the grass to grow longer. That such periods will naturally coincide with hot weather is only further reason to ensure your lawn does not become worn out. It won’t be long before you can return to your usual regime, and your lawn will be as good as new.
How you feed your lawn in summer is very dependent on the weather. Application of fertilizer in spring should provide grass with a steady supply of nutrients until autumn. However, both hot and cool, wet conditions can call for some extra feeding, and this can be quite a delicate matter.
Warm weather can cause your lawn to grow quite rapidly and use up nutrients at a quicker rate than expected, leading to a loss in vigour. Similarly, wet conditions can cause nutrient drainage, calling for a feeding top up.
The best practice is to observe your lawn’s colour and thickness and compare it with how it looked a week or two beforehand. This way you can tell if there has been a drop in quality. If you have kept mowing and watering consistent, you’ll be able to put it down to a loss in nutrients.
Depending on how bad the situation is, you may require a full refertilisation with a granular feed spread evenly across the lawn. However, most of the time all that will be required is a quick green-up with a liquid or soluble lawn feed such as Miracle-gro Lawn Food 1kg . This should act quickly and effectively.
Bear in mind however that, in conditions of dry weather, granular feed will have to be activated with a watering just after application. It is best to avoid adding fertiliser in dry weather, as this may scorch the lawn.
In the dryer summer months, watering can become very important. However, if you have a well-established, aerated and deep-rooting lawn, this will prove more resilient in periods of relative drought. If your lawn does turn straw coloured in reaction to hot weather, this should be rectified pretty quickly with the return of the rain (in the UK, thankfully, this is unlikely to be very long).
A good summer watering regime will involve a good even soak around once or twice a week, using a sprinkler or hose gun. It is best to water when a minimum of moisture will be lost to evaporation, so the morning or the evening is best. Do not over-water, as this can cause roots to become shallow or susceptible to drying out.
As with feeding, it is good to be on your guard for the first signs of drought. If your lawn shows signs of dulling in colour or thinning out, it is time to water (as well as reduce mowing and possibly consider feeding).
It is important to remember that new turf will need to be consistently watered throughout the summer until it becomes established.
Common Summer Problems
There are a few specific problems which can pose challenges to your lawn care during summer. Increased usage of your lawn can cause worn or bare patches (especially if you have dogs) and weeds and moss are still a threat in poorly drained and over-mown lawns.
Lawn patching products such as , Gro-Sure Smart Seed 40m2 or Miracle-Gro Patch Magic are very useful for covering damaged areas, especially so because summer is not the optimal time for a general overseeding (try spring or autumn). Just be sure to water the repaired patch and mow it to the same level as the rest of the lawn once the new grass has sprouted.
Regarding moss and weeds, there are many ways to prevent these in the first place such as aerating your lawn and ensuring your do not cut it too short. If weeds and moss do appear, however, the trick is to again be vigilant and catch them early. Remember to remove weeds by the root using the appropriate tool and use a specialised liquid lawn weedkiller such as Resolva Lawn Weed Killer or Weedol Gun! Lawn Weed Killer , which kills weeds and leaves grass intact. There are similar products for moss but bear in mind that moss turns black as it dies, so avoid applying this just before a garden event!
If you are leaving your lawn for an extended period to go on holiday, it is well worth enlisting a friend, employing a gardener or looking at automatic watering systems to keep up your mowing and watering regime. It only a takes a little neglect and period of particularly hot weather for the effects of drought to set in.