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Marty Stuart
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Maintaining turf health this summer

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  • Maintaining turf health this summer
    Michael Abney

As we start to transition from spring into summer, environmental conditions are beginning to change. Temperatures are starting to rise and rainfall is likely to start decreasing. This article will provide some tips on maintaining a healthier lawn.

When was the last time you soil tested your lawn? Soil testing your lawn can be a very important management step because it removes the guess work and allows you to know exactly what your grass needs are. Soil testing will provide information on pH, lime needs, and nutrient needs/deficiencies. If you have not soil tested in the last two to three years, I recommend soil testing your lawn.

Maintain the recommended mowing height and keep the blades sharp on the mower. If the blades are not sharp, they can shred the tips of the grass blades which might result in more water usage and unnecessary stress. Also, mow often enough that no more than 30% of the leaf blade is removed in a single cutting. Here are some of the recommended mowing heights: common bermudagrass and zoysiagrass – 1 to 2 inches, hybrid bermudagrass – 0.5 to 1.5 inches, centipede grass – 1.5 to 2 inches, and St. Augustine – 2.5 to 4 inches. During stress periods such as drought, raising the mowing height is recommended.

If you lawn has irrigation, between 9 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. is the most efficient time to irrigate and will not increase disease problems. Irrigate when 30 to 50% of the lawn is showing signs of moisture stress. Also, apply enough water to wet the soil 6 to 8 inches deep.

If the thatch layer in your yard is greater than 0.5 inches thick, removing it is recommended. Excess thatch can reduce infiltration, cause grass roots to be shallow rooted, and increase the chance of insect and disease issues.

Allow for adequate light and air movement in shaded areas. In these areas, raising the cutting height will help the grass absorb what light does make it through the canopy. Be aware that moisture may persist longer here than in the adjacent full sun areas of the lawn. Also, reduce the fertilizer amounts in these areas by 20 to 50 percent.

Lastly, follow recommended disease, insect, and weed control practices. The first step in this process is correctly identifying the pest of concern. Your county extension agent can help with this process. Proper management may also reduce the need for chemical treatment.

For more information, please call the Jones County Extension Office at 478-986-3958 or refer to the publications on the UGA Extension website.