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Summer Lawn Care
A Little Stress is a Good Thing
August, 2014 - Issue #118
Courtesy of Shutterstock
Courtesy of Shutterstock
Grass is a very manipulative plant. When it gets hot in the SCV, lawns begin to show stress very easily. Brown patches begin to appear, the deep-green color of winter and spring fade and grass' velvety texture can turn straw-like. Basically, the lawn is throwing the plant equivalent of a tantrum - it is trying to guilt you into giving it more water. While giving in and overwatering your grass might soothe your conscience, it can lead to arrhythmia-inducing water bills.

"Now is the season for TOUGH LOVE. While it doesn't take much to stress your grass,
it does take a lot to permanently damage it."
Now is the season for tough love. While it doesn't take much to stress your grass, it does take a lot to permanently damage it. In the heat of the summer, your grass should not be watered more than every other day. If you have been conservative over the cool season, only watering once or twice a week, you might only need to water three times per week.

Most of the grass used in the SCV prefers cool weather and would rather be spending the summer in Oregon or Washington. It is going to stress some - please expect it. Just like physical stress can build muscles in us, a little water stress in the grass will encourage root development. And just like building muscle is a process, so is developing roots. Just don't get too overzealous in cutting the water and be realistic - if we are in a heat wave you might have to add a water cycle or two.

Other things you can do to help your grass through the summer without overwatering:
• Raise the mowing height. Long grass tolerates
heat better, shades the soil and helps promote
root development.

• Don't water extra after mowing. It may make you feel
better but it really doesn't do much for the grass.

• While it is best to fertilize in the spring and fall, if
you are going to fertilize during the summer, use a slow
release fertilizer. One application should be enough.
Regular fertilizers can burn the grass in the summertime.

• Brown patches usually indicate problems with the
sprinkler system. The areas that remain green are getting
adequate water, so let the brown patch be your guide
and make sure the sprinklers in that area are working
properly. Check to make sure there are no clogs in the
sprinklers heads, the heads are properly adjusted and
are not blocked or sitting too low.

A drought-tolerant lawn is a work in progress and requires tough love - so be strong (And save some money.)!

For more information, visit the Water Conservation Tips page
at www.clwa.org.
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