Maintaining a healthy lawn can be a challenge during the summer months, but ignoring that challenge can diminish a home’s “curb appeal” and even its value.

Summer’s heat, drought, and high humidity can dehydrate grass and lead to desertification, while a host of fungal diseases, like brown patch, can lead to dead turf. Protecting against these maladies can save home owners money on landscaping and yard maintenance and will help enhance the home’s value over the long term.

Important basic steps that home owners can take include watering, fertilizing, aerating, and mowing.

Hydration

Like any other living thing, grass requires hydration to remain healthy. Home owners should water their grass thoroughly, preferably in the evening or morning to reduce water loss from evaporation. Typically, 1-1.5 inches of water should be applied each week, although this should be raised to 2 inches when the weather is unusually hot or dry. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to the proliferation of fungal diseases.

Fertilization

Fertilizing also is essential to a healthy lawn. Fertilizer should be applied once a year, usually in late summer or early fall when the weather begins to cool. Be sure to follow the packaging instructions carefully or check with your state’s agricultural extension service for localized advice. And keep fertilizer away from slopes near water sources because it can pollute them through runoff.

Aeration

Aeration is the process of puncturing the soil beneath the lawn turf with small holes to allow air, water and nutrients to enrich grass roots. Lawns that see frequent use, dry out easily, or suffer from soil compaction require more aeration than others.

The best time to aerate a lawn is in late spring or early summer. The aeration process is relatively simple. Home owners can use a spike aerator to poke holes several inches into the soil or a plug aerator that removes plugs of grass and soil from the lawn. Typically, soil plugs are 2-3 inches in depth and .5-.75 inches in diameter. Space between individual plugs should be 2-3 inches, with roughly 8 plugs per square foot.

Also known as core aerators, plug aerators can be rented from garden centers and home improvement stores.

Mowing

Many home owners make the mistake of cutting their grass too short. This can harm beneficial microbes and also encourage weeds. Ideally, grass should be about four inches tall. It is also important to avoid mowing until at least a week after planting new turf so the grass has time to put down roots.

Being smart and sensible about lawn maintenance can save a home owner considerable money and will enhance the home’s value and curb appeal. Mowing, aerating, hydrating, and fertilizing are all steps that home owners can take to help protect their investment and make their lawns the envy of the neighborhood.

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