Tips to keep your lawn healthy this summer

Proper mowing technique is just one component to maintaining a healthy lawn. Photo by Doug Freer.

Will your lawn survive the summer heat? Here are some tips for growing and keeping it healthy.

Mowing tips

1) Mow the grass tall, at least three inches, even three and a half. The taller the better. Longer leaf blades collect more sunlight for increased photosynthesis, which is how the plant creates food for itself. More food means more energy and stronger grass plants and healthier roots. Tall grass shades the soil, keeping it cooler, and minimizes sunlight that weed seeds need to germinate.

2) Cut shady lawn areas less frequently, allowing the grass to grow taller so it can capture more sunlight.

3) Sharpen your lawn mower blade before summer heat, and again in late summer for best results, or any time you run over sticks or rocks.

4) Change the direction of travel with each mowing to help the grass stand up.

5) Mulch the grass clippings back into the lawn. Rake out clumps of clippings. Clippings are more than 80 percent water and they will return nutrients and water to the lawn. Clippings do not contribute to the build up of thatch.

Watering tips

1) Measure the amount of water your sprinkler delivers by setting out some cake or pie pans. Measure the water collected in the tins on a level surface after a half hour to determine how much total time is required to deliver one inch of water each week.

2) Supplement rainfall as needed to make sure your lawn receives at least one inch of water per week.

3) Break up the watering into several sessions, watering for as long as possible without allowing the water to puddle. When puddles form the soil is saturated and can not absorb any more water and water is being wasted. If you have watered less than one inch you will need to water again.

Other tips

1) Clean up leaves, sticks and other plant litter before mowing. Plant litter and debris may contribute to excessive thatch build up and should not be left on the lawn. Mowing over sticks and other debris will dull your mower blades more quickly.

2) Do not leave hoses, children’s swimming pools or other items on the lawn for an extended period of time. Hot plastic items will heat up and bake the lawn creating dead spots.

3) Fertilize the lawn with either traditional or organic products to deliver the equivalent of four pounds of nitrogen per thousand square feet for the season. Break up the fertilizer into four or five applications. Reduce the amount of fertilizer you apply in shady lawn areas by half or two-thirds.

4) Avoid aerating and dethatching the lawn when the weather is dry and hot. Wait until cooler temperatures return this fall, or if you must do it now, then water the lawn thoroughly.

It is easier to keep a lawn green and healthy than it is to make a lawn green and healthy. Follow these tips to avoid having to repair or renovate your lawn this fall.

Douglas Freer is a Cleveland Heights native and the owner of Lawn Lad, Inc. Lawn Lad provides residential landscape services in the Heights area. Call 216-371-1935 or visit

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Volume 2, Issue 7, Posted 6:48 PM, 05.26.2009