Preparing Your Landscape For Summer
The high temperatures and dry weather of summer can cause significant stress on your landscape. Without making the proper preparations during the preceding months, the money, time, and effort invested in your lawn and landscape could be for naught. One of the biggest problems facing commercial landscaping during the summer season is keeping everything looking fresh and lush once the drought conditions set in. Commercial landscapes can often have amplified heat because of the use of asphalt and reflective windows so maintenance is critical in the heat of summer.
Here Are Some Tips To Prepare Your Landscape For Summer:
Regular watering is vital during the summer. Be mindful of drought restrictions in your area when setting up a watering schedule. Install an automatic irrigation system to allow for consistent watering. Turf and plants alike may need copious amounts of water to survive the summer heat. Even areas that receive a lot of rainfall may not get an adequate amount of natural moisture to keep greenery healthy on its own. Best practice is to water slowly and gradually – this allows the water to penetrate the root level and avoid runoff. If possible, try to water at night or in the early morning hours so the moisture does not evaporate in the heat of the day.
During the growing season, the first burst of color is usually seen in the springtime, followed by greening in the summertime. To help maintain this color as long as possible, consider planting spring flowering bulbs in the fall so the colorful blooms will begin in early spring. The high heat of summer brings an end to the colorful blooms of spring but it lends itself to lush greenery in its place. One way to keep this color thriving in the summer is to consider planting heat-tolerant annuals. These plants need consistent watering to get established but once they have, they can provide nonstop color throughout the summer and early fall.
Mowing should be done regularly – striving for about once per week. Cut cool season Fescue grass to a height of 2.5 to 3 inches, except for the hottest part of summer, when it should be cut about 1/2 inch longer. Bermudagrass and other warm season types will want to be cut to a lesser height, however. Mowing regularly keeps grass growing at a healthy rate and keeps a neat, manicured looking turf that is aesthetically pleasing. Growing the grass longer in the hottest parts of summer provides shade for roots and also helps retain moisture in the soil. Grass should never have more than 1/3 of the blade cut at a time – this can cause structural damage that inhibits its growth.
Fertilizers supplement the nutrients that are already found in soil. It also keeps grass growing thick and lush. Fertilizer should be applied based on grass type and time of year. It is recommended that fertilizer be applied at least twice per year, preferably 4 to 5 times for some. Fertilizer is needed, especially during the turf’s peak growing season. Fertilizer should be scaled back 30 days before the hottest summer temperatures hit. Fertilizer should be applied to cool season grasses during early spring and the onset of fall. Fertilizer with higher nitrogen concentrations should be used in the fall to ensure survival of the grass during the winter. Warm season grasses flourish during the summer months and subsequently should be fertilized in the spring when the lawn shows its first signs of vibrancy. Fertilizing should be repeated again in late summer. Newer slow release type fertilizers work well in that they break down slowly and release over a longer period of time, so fewer applications are needed. These type fertilizers however, can be a bit more costly.
Mulching helps control soil moisture and also helps regulate soil temperature. Mulch is full of beneficial soil nutrients and is also dense enough to protect roots from the sun. Mulch can be used to keep grass from growing. Spread a thin layer around the bases of plants during the height of summer heat. Remember not to have mulch over the trunk of trees or base of plant material as it can actually rot the plant over time. Mulching in conjunction with frequent watering will help ensure adequate hydration throughout the entire summer season. As an added benefit, mulch helps control weed growth as well.
Landscapes require a lot of care and maintenance during the summer when plants are actively growing. Keep in mind that just because turf turns brown does not mean it is dead. Warm season turf turns brown (goes dormant) in the cooler weather months. When the weather warms, typically the turf begins to green up and actively start growing again. Spring / Summer is a great time to prune, as well. Pruning promotes healthy growth by eliminating limbs and branches that are dead, pest-ridden, or damaged. Pruning also allows you to shape the growth of your trees and shrubs, allowing a more aesthetic appearance to your landscaping. When pruning, look for dead or damaged limbs to prune first. These can be identified by a colorless appearance or lack of living foliage. Care should also be taken to remove any crossing branches or limbs that extend over driveways, walkways, or other high traffic areas. Late Winter or early Spring is also a good time to get rid of weeds before they overtake your landscape. Applying an herbicide in the spring will help prevent germination of warm season weeds. Thatch can accumulate over the winter, blocking sunlight and preventing water from reaching the roots of the grass. While aeration and raking are typically done in the fall, raking can be done again in the spring if the turf shows signs of compaction. If there is too much thatch build up on your turf, it is recommended to dethatch (or scalp) and overseed. Depending on your tastes and budget, this could be a yearly event or an every few year event. But this will be needed periodically.
Inspecting & Controlling
Spring is a good time to inspect your landscape and take any treatment and preventative measures needed. Flowers, bushes, shrubs, and trees should be inspected for such pests as aphids, grasshoppers, slugs, and snails and treated accordingly. Spring is also a good time to inspect your fruit trees for scab diseases and other potential concerns. If evidence is found, treatment will be required when new leaves appear and again when 2/3 of the flower blossoms have fallen.
Keeping your landscaping lush and vital during the summer months requires significant preparation and time. Please contact your Account Manager should you have any further questions or concerns. As always, we are here to assist you any way we can.