You don’t have to have a gift for the obvious to know that Atlanta, Georgia, is hot and humid, and the plants grow like crazy, especially in the summer. But what you may not know is that not all grass is the same. Knowing the difference can mean you have a lush, green lawn instead of a sparse, stressed one. Here are some tips for lawn mowing and maintenance in Atlanta.
What kind of grass?
In Georgia, it’s a good bet you have warm-season grass growing on your lawn. They are heat resistant and tolerate a Georgia summer well. The most popular varieties include St. Augustine, Bermuda, Zoysia, and centipede grass. If you aren’t sure which kind you have, you can take a few plants down to your local garden store or extension agency, and they can identify it for you.
What you don’t want to do is scalp or shave your lawn. Some homeowners love the look of a closely cropped lawn, and others do it because they think it saves them from having to cut it again too soon. But cutting it too close stresses out the grass. Taller grass also shades the soil in the heat of the summer. The recommended height for Bermudagrass is 0.5 – 1.5 inches tall; Zoysiagrass is the same. Cut centipedegrass to a height of 1.5 and 2.5 inches. St. Augustinegrass does well when it’s between 2 to 4 inches tall. Cut on the shorter end in the spring to get rid of dead grass, and cut on the longer end in July and August to help keep the soil shaded and retain more water. Keep your blades sharp, and never cut more than one-third of the lawn’s height in any one mowing. Finally, leave the grass clippings to decompose. It helps feed the soil (and cuts down on the amount of work for you!)
You should fertilize and put down some pre-emergent herbicide in February, say about Super Bowl Sunday. Some people administer the fertilizer and weed killer separately, others swear by weed-and-feed mixtures. Either way, early spring is the time to give your lawn the proper nourishment it needs for the long growing season ahead, and to get a jump on those weeds.
Make sure your lawn is getting about an inch or so of water a week, whether it’s rain or from a sprinkler. Grass needs a good, long drink a few times a week, rather than a shallow watering every day or so. And in Atlanta, you want to water early in the morning. It’s the coolest time of the day and helps the water soak into the ground, not evaporate. And as the sun rises and the day heats up, it dries up the remaining water droplets on the grass blades, lowering the risk of fungus and disease.
Fertilize again at the end of the summer. Aerating before fertilizing in the spring and the fall helps oxygen get into your soil and gives the roots the elbow room they need in the active growing season.
Atlanta’s heat and humidity are a blessing for homeowners when it comes to their lawns. Your grass can be thick and bright green with just a little regular maintenance from you. Once you do what you can to nurture your yard, let nature give your lawn the boost it needs to be the envy of the block.
Have questions about lawns or lawn care in Atlanta? Visit our Atlanta, GA lawn care page.