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Lawn Care Essentials for Spring and Summer

By Kelly Wingard
Hip-Home.com Columnist

You know you should mow your grass often in the summer and water it frequently to obtain a lush green lawn, right? Wrong! Lawn care experts advise a little neglect is in order during the summer months when your lawn typically goes dormant. Ideally, proper lawn care begins in the fall, requiring nine months of patient preparation for the arrival of a healthy bundle of new grass each spring.

Seasonal Lawn Care Activities

Contrary to popular notion, spring isn't the time to spring into action on your lawn. The bulk of lawn care--fertilizing, seeding, weed killing, and thatch control--should occur in the fall. This allows your lawn to develop a root system strong enough to survive summer's heat. Well-developed lawns require less watering, but when hot, dry weather calls for it, soak the ground root deep--usually to four inches. Water early in the morning, when plants use water more efficiently and evaporation is minimized.

Use Spring Fertilizer Sparingly

If lawn envy sets in and you feel you must fertilize off-season, avoid early spring or summer applications. The University of Illinois Extension office recommends mid-May fertilization at one-fourth the rate suggested by the manufacturer (for example, if the bag says it covers 5,000 square feet, spread it over 20,000 square feet). Fertilizers produce lush green lawns, but when ill-timed they sacrifice roots for shoots, stimulating leaf growth that robs roots of energy reserves and makes your lawn more susceptible to disease. For best results, contract with a fertilizer company specializing in lawn treatment for your area. Less is best for proper summer lawn care. So sit back and enjoy the lazy, hazy days of summer by reducing mowing and avoiding lawn treatments until the fall, when dormant grass wakes up and your green lawn makes a brief reappearance.

University of Illinois Extension: Spring Lawn Care Guide
University of Illinois Extension: Summer Lawn Care Tips
Penn State: Less is More for Summer Lawn Care
TruGreen: Selecting a Lawn Fertilizer

About the Author

Kelly Wingard is a homeowner with 30 years of budget-minded decorating and remodeling experience. She would rather buy a goat than mow her lawn.

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