Summer Lawn Care
Two Types of Lawns
Don’t forget that there are two types of lawns used in California: warm-season grasses, and cool-season grasses (or grass blends). The most common warm-season lawns are Bermuda grass and St. Augustine grass. (Buffalo grass is a newer alternative.) Both Bermuda and St. Augustine grow rapidly and are naturally at their peak from June through September.
Cool-season lawns such as the Marathon or Delta series slow their growth during the hottest months. If not continuously fed, they can become semi-dormant during late August and September and even into October.
The highest priority for both types of lawns is watering. Both Bermuda and St. Augustine can tolerate less water and even drought. Both will suffer temporarily with a lack of water, but will survive. Cool-season lawns, however, need regular watering during summer. If left unwatered to the point of desiccation, these lawns will not revive and will need to be re-seeded or re-planted—these lawns have no drought tolerance.
All lawns are best watered deeply and less frequently, promoting deep root formation. Daily watering for 10 or 15 minutes is not a good practice. Rather, 20 minutes or more two or three times a week is best. Your soil type will determine the specific length of time and frequency.
Both cool-season and warm-season lawns look their best with regular feeding. Use a high-nitrogen food specifically designed for lawns such as Marathon Lawn Food or Armstrong Garden Centers Lawn Food. Feeding every other month is sufficient, but if you have high traffic, monthly feeding may be desirable. With consistent high temperatures, especially inland during August and September, cool-season lawns may become semi-dormant. Feed lightly, if at all during these months.
A healthy, well-fed and well-watered lawn is usually quite weed-free during summer. It’s during spring and fall when weeds are more of a problem. Spot weed by hand if necessary and wait until fall to apply a weed and feed such as Armstrong Garden Centers Weed and Feed for lawns.
Pests and Diseases
Both cool- and warm-season lawns should be pest- and disease-free until late July-August. At this time diseases or pests may become a problem. Cool-season lawns may be affected with brown patches caused by fungus. Ask an Armstrong Associate to help with identification. Treat with a fungicide. Be sure that watering occurs in the early morning rather than evening.
Both types of lawns can be attacked by grubs—damaged spots can be lifted, roots and all, by pulling on the sod. Treat with a spray or granular product for grub worms. Tiny chinch bugs can do serious damage to warm-season lawns. Irregular brown patches occur and the grass dies. At the first appearance of chinch bug damage, use a granular pesticide recommended by your Armstrong Associate.
For cool-season lawns, raise your mower to 2 or more inches. This will help keep conserve moisture and provide shade through the summer. Warm-season lawns can be kept at a much shorter height—Bermuda grass to as low as ½-inch and St. Augustine to 1 inch. This will keep them in bounds and will reduce thatch.