1. Although lawns may lose some of the lush green colour and become dormant during the height of the summer, it is still important to provide the grass with a balanced nutritional feed. Apply a slow-release fertiliser to keep your lawn healthy. This feed is important as when the lawn does receive a good drink, it will be able to utilize the feed and recover quicker.
2. Watering. If your lawn is brown and patchy during the summer then the most likely cause is dryness. If your lawn is dry, then watering will certainly help to maintain a good colour and appearance. If you do water your lawn then do so in the evenings/early mornings (watering during bright sunlight can scorch grass) and aim to do this heavily 2-3 times per week.
You are aiming to get the water into the root zone as this will have the most impact, a couple of heavy soakings with a sprinkler for 1.5-2 hours at a time (in each position required to cover the lawn) should achieve this. You can determine whether the water is reaching the lawn roots by applying the sprinkler then leaving alone for 24 hours before digging up a small core of turf and soil to see how far down the soil the water has reached. If the water hasn’t reached the desired depth then extend the sprinkling time next time you water. Do not use a hose or watering can, as this will not put on enough water to reach roots.
Watering daily for shorter durations does not have the same impact and can encourage turf disease such as Red Thread as the sward often remains damp and humid as it doesn’t get time to dry out in between watering and the water is unlikely to drain right down in to the root zone where it is needed. Watering is especially important for newly laid turf or areas recently seeded where the root depth may be quite shallow.
3. Mowing. You should now be mowing your lawns at least once per week, twice if possible.
Remember to do so with a sharp blade and regularly change the direction of your cut. Lawns should be cut between 25-40mm in length. During warm dry spells raise the height of your mower to leave the grass a little longer. Grass roots will grow accordingly with the amount of energy they produce. By leaving the leaf longer on top will encourage a more robust root system to help protect against drought stress.
4. Move Any Furniture. Summer is a great time to have a pool or even a tent on the lawn, whilst they help the summer be more enjoyable they can cause a problem for your lawn. Be sure to move them every couple of days to avoid your lawn getting those horrible looking yellow patches.
5. Ants. Ants are often a problem on many lawns over the summer. The ants normally do not kill the grass directly, but their excavations bring soil to the surface and eventually build mounds. These raised areas can be scalped by the mower, leading to bald patches and the nests often dry out quickly causing stress to the grasses growing above. To avoid mounds being built up it is best to rake or brush the loose soil out over the lawn when dry. Controlling ants in a lawn is very difficult as there are currently no reliable products available to control ants in lawns.
6. Plan Autumn Remedial Work. If your lawn has become thin or patchy during the summer months, now is a great time to plan any repair work to be carried out in the autumn. Scarification, aeration, over-seeding and top dressing is the perfect combination of treatments to revive and regenerate tired, even drought-stressed lawns.