If you want a yard that looks like a million bucks through the summer, you have to work at it — even though it’s tempting to stay inside in the AC when the mercury rises above 90 degrees. Here’s a simplified guide to summer lawn care in Kansas City.
The first thing that comes to mind is watering. Yes, your grass needs water when it’s hot, but there’s a right way to go about it. You may be tempted to over-irrigate, assuming that more is better when it’s hot. In fact, because Kansas City soil has a lot of clay, excessive water simply runs down the curb and into the gutter.
Also, if you water too much or too often, your grass roots will stay near the surface. You want them to go deep. Make them work for their drink! In that same vein, it’s better to water about three times a week rather than every day.
Your yard needs 1-2 inches of water per week. That can come from rain or irrigation, or a combination of both. KC typically gets about 23 inches of rain between May and September — so Mother Nature does her part.
After watering, the soil beneath your turfgrass should be moist down to 4-6 inches deep. A way to gauge that is to shove a long screwdriver into it and measure the muddy residue on it. Water in the morning when the dew is on the blades and before the day begins baking. If you water in the afternoon, most of it will just evaporate in the hot air. Evenings are a second-best alternative, but avoid watering at night. When grass stays wet in the cool overnight, it invites in damaging bacteria and fungi.
Mow to the Proper Height
So, the grass is watered, and the sun is shining. Next comes that all-American summertime ritual — mowing. There is a temptation to mow your lawn down until it is as pristine as a putting green. And let’s admit it – we like to cut it short to stretch out the days between mowing. Summer lawn care in Kansas City means regular mowing. The best types of grass for Kansas City are tall fescue and Zoysia. Both should stay about 2-1/2 to 3 inches tall to be healthy and to keep weeds from claiming squatters’ rights. Keep your lawn mower blade sharp. You want to clip your grass evenly — not beat it into submission.
Weed it and Reap
If you did your due diligence and treated your yard with pre-emergent herbicide in the spring, you fired the opening shot in the war on weeds. But the battle will continue through the summer.
You have two ways to fight it. First is the time-honored tradition of hoeing, digging, or pulling up weeds. The other is to use a post-emergent herbicide. Your best bet is a selective post-emergent product. Selective means it should kill certain types of weeds and grasses, but leave others alone. Make sure to read the label and get a product that will kill your weeds, but not your grass. Selective herbicides will kill off the top of your weeds, but will not stop buried weed seeds from germinating.
You’ll also find nonselective post-emergent herbicides, like the popular Roundup brand. These will kill everything they touch, including your grass and yard plants. The best use of these potent products is on weeds and grasses that pop up in the cracks of your sidewalk and driveway and along fence lines.
If you’re a conscientious lawn steward, you fertilized in the spring. Don’t do it again in the heat of summer or you’ll risk chemical burn to your grass.
Keep an eye out for brown patches in your lawn. This could be a sign of grub worms. A few grubs will not hurt a healthy lawn. But if the turf peels back easily and you see a lot of the fat little creatures, a trip to the garden center for pesticide should nip the problem. Look for a product that contains neonicotinoids or chlorantraniliprole.
Keeping a great yard all summer is an ongoing chore, but follow this regimen, and you should have plenty of time to kick back and enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Looking to learn more about lawn care and gardening in Kansas City? Visit our Kansas City Lawn Care page.