If you’ve been maintaining your lawn year round, it shouldn’t need much preparation for the summer months ahead. Turf Medic, however, recommends a few actions to ensure your outdoor space looks great and stays healthy all season long!
1. Mow Like A Pro
With the right upkeep, your grass can be the star of your landscaping! Both cool and warm season grasses flourish in coastal North Carolina. Warm season species, like Bermuda, zoysia, St. Augustine, and centipede, however, require more maintenance over the summer months, while cool season varieties need more attention in the fall.
Keep warm season grasses looking fantastic this summer with these Turf Medic tips:
- Mow consistently in late spring, but leave grass higher than normal to encourage root development
- Keep mower blades sharp so you make a clean cut, reducing damage to your lawn
- Follow the 1/3 rule: never remove more than 1/3 the length of your grass at one time (doing so can stunt its growth)
- Keep grass at the recommended mowing height for its species to ensure the best-looking lawn
2. Practice Proper Pruning
It’s important to give spring-flowering trees and shrubs attention before the summer season as well. Pruning encourages growth by allowing flowers to develop while they are dormant. The result? Healthier, more appealing landscapes!
The best time to trim trees and shrubs is approximately two weeks after their flowers begin to taper off. Remove dead, damaged, or bug-infested branches in addition to unwanted and thin growth.
Remember, trimming your trees and shrubs will influence their shape as well. Every place at which you make a cut will stop growth in that direction, encouraging the plant to branch out in a different manner.
May is also a great time to begin readying your lawn for the upcoming hurricane season, especially in coastal areas of North Carolina. Don’t wait until a day or two before a storm to remove dead, dying, and split tree branches. If you do, you may get stuck with yard debris you can’t dispose of before inclement weather hits.
Additionally, the Turf Medic team suggests homeowners take the following steps before a hurricane:
- Check storm drains and remove any debris and blockages
- Secure newly planted or young trees with stakes
- Turn off your irrigation system to avoid overwatering
3. Aerate Your Turf
Over time, a thin layer of decomposing grass develops at the base of your turf’s soil. This is called thatch and it prevents air, water, and nutrients from getting to your grass’ root system. Aerating your turf creates holes in your lawn, allowing the roots of your grass better access to the oxygen, water, and nutrients it needs to thrive.
Use either a core aerator (for large lawns) or a steel spike aerator (for smaller yards). If you don’t own either of these tools, your local garden center or hardware store likely has them available to rent.
Follow the Turf Medic instructions below and aeration will be a walk in the park!
Step 1: Water your grass thoroughly a day or two before aerating
Step 2: Inspect your lawn and mark areas that contain hidden objects, like sprinkler heads and stumps, with a flag so you know to avoid that spot
Step 3: Run the aerator in parallel lines, moving in only one direction, over the entirety of your yard
Step 4: Move the aerator over the whole lawn again, going perpendicular to the direction you went in the previous step
Step 5: Apply grass seed and fertilizer when finished
4. Plant Bulbs That Pop
Late spring is also an ideal time to plant annual bulbs in your flower beds. Wax begonias, Angelonia, ornamental pepper, daylilies, irises, and dahlias are all excellent choices for the state’s coastal region and will add beautiful bursts of color throughout your landscape. Best of all, they’ll bloom year after year!
As a general rule, wait until any threat of frost has passed before planting bulbs. Most of these flowers also enjoy full sun and well-draining soil, so keep that in mind when planning your beds.
To plant, dig a hole two to three times deeper than the height of the bulb and place the bulb inside, pointed end up. If there is no pointed side, look for roots emerging from the bulb and plant this side down. Water them well and wait for their amazing foliage to emerge!
5. Fertilize For Peak Performance
Finally, fertilizing is an important step in enjoying a beautiful outdoor space this summer. When looking for a fertilizer, whether for your turf or your flower beds, choose one with a mix of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.
Fertilizing Grass And Annual Bulbs
Warm season grasses are actively growing in late spring, making it the perfect time to fertilize. Apply fertilizer when yours begins to green up or start a new growth cycle.
It’s also a good practice to test your soil every few years to determine what nutrients it has plenty of and which it’s lacking. This will help you choose the right mix for your yard’s needs. If you’re having trouble maintaining a healthy lawn, test its pH as well. Typically, warm season grass needs a pH between 6.0 and 6.5 to thrive.
For annual bulbs, apply fertilizer when you first plant them, and then an additional dose six to eight weeks later. If you have old bulbs still in the ground from last year, fertilize them when they start to reemerge in late spring.
Weed and Pest Control
Avoid weed and feed products this time of year, as they can kill newly planted grass seeds. Instead, spot treat weeds, applying herbicides only to areas that are infested. Check your lawn for signs of pests too, once again treating only contaminated areas.
Go ahead, make your neighbors jealous this summer! This Turf Medic pre-summer lawn maintenance checklist will have you rolling in compliments (and your grass) all season long!