Summer Lawn Tips with 'The Lawn Care Nut' Allyn Hane

By Allyn Hane - "The Lawn Care Nut"
July 14, 2018

Happy summer ya’ll, hope your lawns are dominating loud and proud! I know that by the time you read this, you should be a few days post-application from your Independence Day Milo throw-down and things are looking double dark. Be sure to keep it irrigated, deep and infrequent.

You know what though? Fall time is not far away and depending on what your goals are, and your grass type is, you may want to get prepared. Seems like many of you will be considering seeding this year, and fall is definitely a good time to do that.

Irrigation watering the lawn

Steven S writes:

“I live in Louisville KY. Just recently discovered your channel and really enjoy your info. In early spring we cut a tree down in our front yard, planted seed, and weeds came up along with the new grass. So my plan here in summer is to spray the front yard like you show to kill the weeds. Then I will plant grass seed (full sun) and fertilize with Milorganite. They always say plant grass in late August early September here.
My question is when to start:

Should I spray weeds now?

When should I plant seed again?

Is it too early to start all this or should I wait until August to start?

Thanks for your help”

Great questions here Steven, let’s break down a quick strategy for you:

First off, you have discovered what many others have, and that is seeding cool-season lawns in spring is a tough battle! I have always preferred fall seeding so that you can get down pre-emergents in spring time to help stop a lot of those problems you are facing now - primarily crabgrass. But that won’t help you now, I know, so let’s get your prepared for the end of summer, early fall time.

Weed Control Now

It’s summer, and you have cool season grass. Spraying weeds now is ok but I recommend you utilize a spot or zone spray method by mixing your own concentrates in water in a pump sprayer. Most over-the-counter “3-way” weed controls that contain active ingredients: 2,4D, Dicamba, and Quinclorac, will do just fine and help you gain control of 75% of the weed pressure you will face. Just be mindful of 2 things:

1)  Heat restrictions - most weed controls of this nature recommend no application in temps above 85 or 90 degrees. Best bet is to spray in the evening when temps are below that and falling. Read the label on the product you purchase to make sure this applies to you!

2)  Re-seed window - again, read the label, but most will recommend no seeding for at least 30 days following an application of weed control.

You are going to be seeding sometime in late August or early September so keep all of this in mind as you proceed forward. Of course, if your lawn is small, why not just pull the weeds by hand?

Mowing During Summer

Don’t discount the importance of proper mowing right now. I’m going to assume you are irrigating properly with deep, infrequent irrigation putting down at least ½” of water twice per week even if you get rain. Yes, I said “even if you DO get rain.” Let that rain be a nice bonus during a hot dry summer while you keep the baseline running consistently with your own irrigation. The reason I’m mentioning mowing here is I want you to see how hard we can push your existing turf to thicken up even in the midst of summer. Spoon feed in the Milorganite every 4 weeks, keep things irrigated, and keep mowing! Think of this like athletic training for your lawn… you gotta train in the heat sometimes to increase your capacity! You might be surprised at how thick your existing turf can get when you push it to improve.

Just keep in mind, no matter what your grass type or mowing height, you really want to stay with that 1/3rd rule that states “never remove more than 33% of the leaf blade in a single mowing.” And if you are still sticking with a nice fertilization schedule then that mowing may still be two times per week! Time for some #WeekNightLawnWork to keep the fun going and going, all summer long!

 Lawn mower in the grass

Seeding In The Heat

Now the reason you will hear from me that seeding cool season grass is best a late August, early September task is because of 2 primary reasons.

1)  Heat - there are 3 primary elements needed to grow grass seed successfully. Seed-to-soil contact, Heat (over 65 degrees consistently) and water.  Heat being the main one right now. It’s just too hot here in summer. You may get germination but those young grass plants won’t be “hardened off” to the point of being able to withstand August heat. They will wither very quicks. It’s best to wait until later August or even early September when the threat of 90 degree days is minimal.

2)  Day Length - if you wait too long and seed in October, you have to consider that they days will get shorter meaning, less sunlight. Heat comes from sunlight of course, but more importantly, plants use the sun (photosynthesis) to generate energy (food) for themselves. Young grass plants are not quite as efficient at this task so we want the longer days to help them suck up more sun!

Now both of these ideas are talking about weather windows. You always have to consider those. Too early and you have too much heat, however, too late, and you could run up on winter frost. Both can stunt or kill young grass plants.  Lastly, keep in mind germination times.

Kentucky Bluegrass seed can take 21 days or more to germinate whereas Perennial Rye will germinate in 7 days. That’s a big swing in timing considering the fall window for lawn care can be shortened by an early winter storm at any time.

Lots to unpack here I know, but it’s super important, feel free to read this twice, and share it!

I’ll see YOU, in the lawn.