Summer Lawn Care Tips – watering, mowing and pest control
Ok so you’ve ordered the turkey and sausages, wrapped the presents and got the beer in for the Christmas week. You’ve got the garden nice and tidy for those summer evening barbecues but the lawn is looking a bit brown and shabby – bare patches starting to appear and a general air of decreptitude. And to make it worse you’re heading away for a week in January and there’s a hose pipe ban on your street.
In Nelson’s hot sunny summers, it’s normal for some grasses to go dormant in midsummer and turn brown. Don’t panic about this – once the rain comes in Autumn those cooler season grasses will come back. But if you really want a leafy green lawn in summertime, your lawn will need about an inch of water a week – either from natural rainfall or the hosepipe.
It’s a good idea to be a bit less rigorous with the lawnmower at this time of year – set the cutting height on your mower a little higher and reduce the frequency of cutting. This will allow the lawn to provide its own natural shade, which keeps the root zone cooler and reduces soil water loss by evapotranspiration.
It’s not a good idea to fertilize your lawn or apply weed killers during the hot months, as the lawn will be heat stressed and subject to die off from over-zealous chemical application. Hand weed instead. If you must use weed killer, use a low toxicity product and spot treat problem areas rather than the whole lawn.
The larval stage of the Porina moth lives in the root bed of your lawn and crawls out at night to feed on your lawn plants. Dig down about two inches you’ll see the small white larvae curled up in their burrows.
Grass Grubs are beetle larvae that feed on grass roots. They pupate in winter and emerge in the spring. Both types of grub are attracted to outdoor lights, so turning off your lights at night can help to keep them at bay.
If you see larvae, spike the soil 2 inches deep in early autumn, or use a dedicated lawn insecticide to treat them. Organic gardeners recommend Neem granules.