It’s inevitable: You strive and strain to keep your lawn looking picture-perfect, and then one day it happens — a brown patch pops up, publicly calling into question all your hard work with its embedded presence in your front yard. And right next door? Your neighbor’s lush, green turf glows, proudly laughing at your attempt.
How do they do it? How does one brave the summer heat, local pests and winding weeds to keep an immaculate lawn? Is it even possible?
The fact is, yes, it is possible to have that lush green lawn — if you learn the right tricks and tips to doing so. And the way to do that? By caring for your lawn like a pro.
One of the first things to know, according to CEO of Precision Landscaping Nate Moses, is that for all the kinds of grass out there, there are really only two main types — cool season and warm season — and that the two types require two different methods of maintenance.
For cool-weather grasses — like fescue, bluegrass and ryegrass — you’ll want to water every other day for about 20 to 30 minutes, and when you mow in the summer, cut no lower than around 4 or 5 inches.
For warm-weather grasses like Bermuda, zoysia or carpetgrass, however, you’ll only need to water once every three days or so, and mow a bit lower — around 2 to 3 inches high.
In both cases, you’ll want to plan to mow so you’re only trimming the blades, not cutting them to the base.
“Cut it too short and it will burn out,” says Moses. “In general, we don’t want to remove more than a third of the blade while we are mowing, which comes out to about once a week.” This is also the reason why most lawn maintenance companies require a weekly service at minimum, he notes.
When it comes to watering, local pro Nathan Hanvey, owner of GrassRoots Turf & Pest Management, adds that timing can play a part, too.
“Lots of short waterings actually contribute to shallow roots, heat stress and fungus development, so you should water less often and for longer time frames,” Hanvey says. “Also, water needs to go down early in the morning and not midday or evening.”
The summer heat and humidity don’t just cause problems with dryness — they are also major components in lawn diseases that result in those ugly brown patches.
“All lawns in our area can be hit hard during this time of year with fungus, from brown patch to dollarspot to zoysia patch… they are all out there just waiting for the right heat and humidity to set in so they can destroy your lawn,” Hanvey says. His suggestion? Put a good fungicide program in place.
If it all seems overwhelming, it’s because it can be; keeping up with all the products, problems, solutions and general maintenance is a full-time job. That may be the reason that both pros recommend hiring a professional.
“The best thing homeowners can do for their lawn is to hire a professional group that can care for it with weed control and fertilization,” says Moses. Additionally, homeowners don’t really have access to the stronger, more effective products that offer true solutions. “Sure, you can care for it, but it generally causes more frustration than success.”
“Timing and applications in itself can be a task; add in trying to keep up with all the products and problems a lawn goes through in a season, and it becomes a full-time job,” he says. “To really get the lawn you desire, call in a locally owned and operated professional to come help you out. Financially, you may find it’s not much different than treating it yourself.”