It’s the first Friday of summer! And it’s a beautiful one here in Portland. We’re in the midst of a bit of a heat wave, which always cracks me up because, much like people in the south freak out when it snows, Mainers freak out when it gets hot, in both a good and bad way. It makes us happy because the summers here can actually be quite cool, so a hot day is a welcome change. However, most people don’t have central air conditioning (including us), so it can end up being quite uncomfortable. For like two days… a week at the most. Anyway, Happy Summer!
Today’s fill in the blank theme is…
So I’m going to tell you what summer means to me, and also what it means for your organic lawn.
What Summer Means to Me
I feel like an elementary school kid writing an essay….
I didn’t really like summer when I was a little kid. I grew up in northern Indiana and the summers can be extremely hot and humid. We didn’t have an air conditioner, so sleeping was really uncomfortable. Plus, this was in the ancient past when kids still played outside, so I had to be outside most of the day when often all I really wanted to do was sit in a cool room and read a book.
The awesome exception was when I was at my grandma’s house. I would play in the kiddie pool or the sprinkler outside on her (probably toxic) lawn and come dripping wet inside to the refrigerator known as her home. She had central air conditioning and you actually needed to put on an extra layer so you wouldn’t freeze to death. It was fantastic.
Autumn has always been my favorite season because it meant that I could finally feel comfortable again. But now, after having lived in Maine for a few years I am really starting to enjoy summer. Most summer days here are really pleasant, and the people who live here truly make the most of it, mainly because we know it’s a short season and winter will be rearing its ugly head again soon. I draw the line at swimming in the frigid ocean here (plus, there are way too many creepy things that live in there), but I do enjoy lots of outdoor time when I can.
Organic Lawn Care for Summer
This is the time of year when plants start to get stressed, especially if you live in a hotter region. When it comes to your organic lawn, this is also the time to make a crucial decision. Do you let the lawn go dormant, or do you keep it green?
When grass plants get too stressed in the summer heat, they will go dormant in order to conserve water and nutrients. This means that your lawn will turn brown. It’s not dead, just brown. Depending on where you live, this may actually be the most environmentally responsible course to take. Regions that don’t get a lot of precipitation will require significant irrigation to keep the grass green, which can be a problem in areas with water restrictions. Even if you don’t have water restrictions, those water bills can add up, especially if you have a larger lawn.
Letting your lawn go dormant is easy; just don’t do anything. You may still want to water very occasionally if there is no natural precipitation for a long period of time. Remember, those grass plants are still alive!
If you want to keep your organic lawn green all summer, the same rules apply, but you can modify them slightly:
- Water infrequently and deeply – Automatic sprinklers are convenient, but if it has recently rained or if your lawn does not need to be watered, turn them off. If you want to avoid dormancy in summer, maintain your watering schedule as the days get hotter. Once your lawn goes dormant, you can’t bring it back until it cools off, so stay on track if you don’t want a brown lawn.
- Mow high – In summer, you may want to mow even higher. Taller grass blades provide shade for the soil, so water the you apply is more likely to reach the plant roots, rather than evaporating in the heat.
- Chill out on the nitrogen – If you fertilized in spring, your summer fertilizer should have less nitrogen. Using a natural liquid fertilizer will ensure that your lawn does not get burned. Granular fertilizers that lay on top of the grass can result in yellow spots, but liquid fertilizer is absorbed into both the soil and the grass blades.
I’m off to enjoy a long walk with the dog. What are your plans for the first weekend of summer?