Healthy green grass.
image by Skmeijin, Morguefile
Stretched across the expanse of your front yard lies a nightmare of brown grass. Summer heats brings the inevitable brown lawn and crackly grass that scratches at your feet. While it's nothing to be proud of, your grass has simply gone dormant during the hottest part of the summer to conserve energy. If you prefer a vibrant green lawn, you have choices to make. These include an increased water bill as well as mowing height and fertilizers. Let's look at a natural way to help keep your grass green.
Set your mower blade height to the highest setting when mowing the lawn. Don't be tempted to shave the grass down during the hottest months of the year to save time behind the mower. Longer grass blades help hold moisture in the soil to conserve water.
Use a mulching mower when mowing the lawn. Mulching mowers chop up grass clippings into smaller fragments, and then spread these out over the lawn. Mulched grass clippings contain plenty of organic material to rejuvenate your yard with organic matter as well as any retained moisture in the clippings.
Apply a high-quality organic fertilizer to your lawn. Fertilizer boosts the strength of each grass blade and encourages strong roots and rhizomes (root trailers under the soil surface). Strong roots mean strong grass, even when a lawn turns brown and goes dormant. Avoid using fertilizers containing any salt because salt harms many of the beneficial insects in the lawn. Organic fertilizers contain no salt and won't harm the environment with runoff.
Water only when the grass blades begin to curl before browning. Frequent watering creates low-growing roots that don't develop deep roots. Low-growing roots travel along the top 2 inches of soil and dry out quickly during hot summer days. Infrequent watering causes the grass roots to dive deeper into the soil to find water. A deep root equals strong, hardy grass that is resistant to weeds and the heat.
Water carefully to control the amount as well as the cost of watering. One trick involves placing an empty tuna or cat food can in the yard near the sprinkler. Turn the sprinkler on for 30 minutes and evaluate how much water gets captured in the can and adjust watering time and sprinkler settings accordingly. Lawns shouldn't receive more than 1 inch of water in one sprinkler session.
Capitalize on a short-lived rain shower by watering within a few hours of the shower. Most showers include 1/4 inch of rain. Make up the difference to reach 1 inch with your sprinkler. Space out watering over a few hours to allow the soil plenty of time to absorb the water. The aim is to water slowly to encourage percolation of liquid down deep into the soil.