Summer is fast approaching, and for lawn owners, it’s engendering mixed feelings. For one, summer is show-off time. If you’ve been doing everything right since fall, then you’ll most likely want to show off your green and lush lawns.
Summer is also the time when most lawn owners want to up their game. They fear that their lawns might lose their shine due to the frequency of outdoor activities, parties and games that normally comes with the season.
There’s also the fear that unattractive brown patches might come due to the scorching summer sun. And so most times they want to keep fertilizing and feeding the lawn so that it continues to remain green and lush throughout summer.
Fertilizers, Summer and Your Lawn
When growing turfgrass, it’s important that you follow it closely through seasonal changes. Summer is usually the warmest season. And hot weather can be as stressful for your lawn as it is for humans.
For your lawn, summer usually implies drought, heat and excess traffic due to use. Lawn owners are usually tempted to fertilize at this point in order to correct whatever adverse effect this might cause.
Fertilizers ordinarily should promote the growth and development of your turfgrass, but you might want to reconsider that idea during summer.
Types of Turfgrass
The question of whether or not to fertilize during summer cannot simply be answered by yes or no. There are many factors to be considered when choosing to apply fertilizers during summer. Irrespective, one very important thing to never forget is your type of turfgrass. Your turfgrass will normally fall between these two:
Warm-season grasses thrive the most during summer months. During winter they may turn brown out of dormancy, but they quickly green up again during late spring and early summer.
Some examples of warm or southern grasses include Bermuda grass, Zoysia grass and the Buffalo grass, among others.
It’s best to fertilize warm-season grasses during the spring. This is just before summer when the grasses are rapidly and vigorously growing.
#2. Cool-Season Grasses
Cool-season grasses such as ryegrass, bluegrass, tall fescue and red fescue thrive best during spring, fall and of course winter. Cold season grasses normally green-up during spring and fall. When summer comes, the grasses go dormant.
They become disease-prone, scraggly looking and tend to grow poorly when they are planted in places with high or summer temperatures.
Synthetic and nitrogen-rich fertilizers do not go down well when applied on cool-season grasses during summer. Applying fertilizers of that sort might increase the already summer-stressed grasses and possibly increase the chances of your lawn burning.
When then is the best time to apply fertilizers?
We’ve already agreed that the summer heat can be stressful on our lawns. It’s why most lawn care experts advise that lawn owners fertilize their lawns during fall and spring. At those times, the temperature is way cooler and more conducive for fertilizers to work effectively.
Precautionary Measures for Fertilizing During Summer
As it is, your lawn is already seriously stressed due to the summer heat. I bet you don’t want to increase that. If you must fertilize your lawn during summer, you definitely want to make certain moves that would reduce the strain it might pose.
#1. Fertilize Your Lawn Early In the Morning or Late At Night
Fertilizers can burn your grasses if they are not applied properly. This possibility becomes even worse when the summer sun scorches your plants
If you must, then apply the fertilizer either late at night or early in the morning. At those periods, the temperature is at its coolest.
#2. Go For Slow Release Fertilizers
Synthetic fertilizers are usually of two types. Slow-release and quick release. Quick-release fertilizers go into action almost immediately after they are applied. Whereas, slow-release fertilizers work over a long period of time.
Asides that, slow-release fertilizers usually have a gentle impact on the turfgrass, and unlike quick release fertilizers, they pose minimal risk of burning to your grass.
#3. Water Wisely
To reduce any adverse effect that might possibly occur, it’s best to water your lawn immediately after applying fertilizers. This will wash away the fertilizer from the top of the blades and wash it deep into the soil and root zone.
Are There Alternatives For You?
You should plan to fertilize your lawn during spring or fall. But if you’re really keen on feeding your lawn this summer, then you might find these options very useful.
#1. Consider Using Grass Clippings
You can allow grass clippings to remain on the lawn for them to decompose. Doing this will allow you to recycle the nutrients in them; this can then serve as an alternative to synthetic fertilizers during summer. This action is usually called “grass cycling”.
Removing grass clippings can lead to a decline in your turf’s growth and then cause it to lose its lush green appearance. Whereas, letting grass clippings remain on the lawn will invariably lead to an increase in growth as well as improve its appearance.
With this method, you can cut down on your use of fertilizers by as much as one pound of nitrogen per 1, 000² feet of turfgrass.
#2. Going Organic
Fertilizers are usually of two types. There’s the synthetic type as well as the organic type.
Synthetic fertilizers are man-made; they usually provide an instant boost for the grass and soil. NPK, which are the major components in synthetic fertilizers, stands for Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium.
Nitrogen promotes the growth of healthy roots and green blades, phosphorus supports the growth of strong and deep roots, while potassium increases your turf’s threshold to withstand adverse or changing conditions.
Synthetic fertilizers also contain other trace elements that aids and promotes growth. Synthetic fertilizers are usually either slow or quick release types, and they are applied depending on seasonal changes.
Synthetic fertilizers have their pros and cons. Since it is man-made, it’s usually a whole lot cheaper. Also, it provides an instant boost to plants, giving it that quick green-up we so ever need. Nevertheless, its components can be harmful to the environment.
On the other hand, there’s the organic type. Organic fertilizers provide a natural alternative to synthetic fertilizers. They are usually derived from natural sources such as cow dungs, fish meal, plant fossils etc.
Organic fertilizers are usually considered safer than synthetic fertilizers. Although, it doesn’t provide that instant boost that synthetic fertilizers provide. If you like, you could view it as a soil improver rather than an instant grass greener.
Organic fertilizers can be applied during any season and on any type of grass as it doesn’t pose the risk of burning to the grass; neither does it cause the grass to undergo extra stress. Nonetheless, its cost is usually higher than the synthetic type fertilizers.
Other Sumner Lawn Maintenance Tips
#1. Water Wisely
During summer, it’s best to water more often as the summer heat can scorch the lawn. When watering, never forget the number one irrigation rule, “water deeply and less frequently”.
Mow high during summer. Of course, this might mean mowing more often, but it’s best you do so. Remember, mowing too low is never a good option.
Taller blades act as shade to the root system of your lawn. This keeps it cool when the summer sun becomes unbearable. Also, taller blades allow for deeper and stronger turf roots.
Also, mind your instrument. Check to see that it’s cutting the grass rather than tearing it out, as that might cause extra strain to your turf.
Wrapping Things Up
Let me say this; the decision to fertilize your lawn during summer is totally dependent on you. Nonetheless, climate and grass type are two things to consider before going ahead with your decision.
To sum it up, it’s never a good idea to go for synthetic fertilizers during summer. If you must fertilize, make sure you go for more natural options.