Seasonal lawn care is essential for a healthy lawn and a beautiful landscape. Each seasons requires certain steps, fall is the best time of year to fertilize your lawn; it’s also when your lawn begins to repair itself from the stress and damage caused by summer heat. In Maryland, record heat in the summer of 2012 created problems for many local lawns and homeowners. The extreme heat and drought were relieved by periodic rain events, which helped some lawns stay green, but also helped damaging insects and diseases stay active.
The majority of lawns in Montgomery, Howard and Frederick Counties, Maryland have a compacted base of soil, made primarily of clay, which dries out in droughts and becomes saturated in heavy rains. Lawns in Olney, Rockville, Silver Spring, Germantown, Gaithersburg, Columbia and Ellicott City became stressed quickly, as summer heat began as early as March and April. While less frequent, locally heavy summer rain showers managed to help lawns in Poolesville, Darnestown, Potomac, Bethesda and Chevy Chase and these areas fared a bit better. The entire DC metro area is still below normal in rainfall for the year.
Most local lawns are comprised of cool season grasses, which thrive in low heat and moderate humidity. The varieties of grasses in our area include bluegrasses, fine fescues and tall fescues. While less abundant, there are also warm season grasses, such as Zoysia and Bermuda grass. These warm season grasses tend to fare better in hotter weather, but become brown in cooler weather, experiencing dormancy for nearly half the year.
As cooler fall weather comes our way and the days get shorter, cool season lawn grasses become more active and more frequent mowing is needed. We recommend mowing to a 3”height, which helps stimulate lateral root growth and encourage the self-healing process of the grasses. Additionally, there are many other simple and environmentally friendly steps that foster the natural repair process, including:
- responsible application of fertilizers to promote healthy lawn growth while protecting our environment
- regular watering
- controlling insects and diseases
In our next post, we’ll address the steps to take that ensure your lawn is repaired from summer drought, utilizing aeration, seeding and a responsible fertilization program.
All the best for a wonderful fall,