Summer Maintenance Tips

Water wisely...

  • Water early! Watering in the morning means less water is lost to evaporation.
  • Water 2.5 cm a week, including rainfall.  Most people overwater, yet experts say you only need 2.5 cm (1 inch) of water, a week, including rainfall, to maintain a vibrant healthy lawn.
  • Water less frequently! Water less frequently and you'll reduce the risk of lawn disease.  It's true ...  over watering is over-rated because it can lead to shallow roots, ideal growing conditions for more weeds and lawn disease.  After all, most healthy lawns need only 2.5 cm (1 inch) of water, per week ...  and this includes rainfall.  Also remember to water slowly and deeply.  Frequent light sprinkling leads to shallow roots.
  • Use a rain gauge.  A rain gauge is the perfect tool to help measure lawn watering.
  • Water according to soil type and weather
  • Choose the right sprinkler for your lawn.  When choosing a sprinkler, focus on two things: the flow rate and the size of your lawn.  Some sprinklers may take 15 minutes, or up to two hours to provide the maximum 1" or 2.5 cm, of required watering.  Use the rain gauge to measure your sprinkler's flow rate.  If you have a small lawn use a stationary sprinkler ...  it penetrates deep into the soil.  For large lawns impulse sprinklers provide the best coverage while oscillating (fan) sprinklers tend to shoot water, often missing patches of grass and losing water to wind.  
    If you have an in ground sprinkler system, program it to water just before dawn, make sure the spray isn't hitting the driveway or sidewalk and install a rain sensor.
  • Let your grass "sleep it off".   Is your lawn a little yellowish or brown during the Summer?  Don't worry ...  this is called 'dormancy' and it's how your lawn protects itself against the heat.  It's true ...  so, when the weather turns hot and dry, let your lawn sleep.  This means no watering, no mowing and no foot traffic.  And don't worry ...  your lawn will awaken soon enough.
  • Stop paying for water your lawn never receives - When you water your lawn in the evening, grass blades - not the soil - get most of the water.  At the same time, the grass remains wet overnight, which can lead to lawn disease.  It's just as costly to water on hot, sunny or windy days and lose the water to evaporation.  That's why it's best to water early in the day.
  • Watch the weather!  Rain is free.  Most weeks your lawn receives all the rain it needs.  Healthy lawns only need 2.5 cm (1" inch a week), including rainfall.
  • Hand water your garden plants.  Apply water directly to the plant root zone by hand watering or using a soaker hose.  These inexpensive ways minimize water loss and reduce maintenance while increasing your free time.
  • Use a rain barrel ...  Don't let storm water go to waste.  Make sure the downspouts from your home's eaves troughs are disconnected from the sewer system and instead drain into a rain barrel, where you can use the water when needed.  At the same time, you're helping reduce combined sewer overflows and protecting our watercourses.
  • Water new trees.  Care for your new tree ...  it benefits us all.  

Mow like a pro...

  • Mow High.  Raise your lawn mower blades to a height of 7.5 cm (3 inches).  Longer grass has deeper roots, can crowd out weeds and above all, retains the lawn soil's moisture.
  • Cut correctly.  Mowing your lawn every week is a ritual ...  not a mandatory requirement.  Mow your lawn only when needed during the Summer.  Never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade.  Short blades of grass are stressful for your lawn and make it difficult for its soil to retain moisture.
  • Leave the grass clippings.  Stop bagging or racking up your lawn clippings.  Clippings provide valuable nutrients (nitrogen), help retain moisture and make it difficult for weeds to grow.  Clippings break down quickly and disappear within a day or two.
  • Mow when grass is dry.  For an even 3" inch lawn, cut your grass when it's dry.  This also helps prevent clippings from clogging your mower.  Mow late in the day to avoid morning dew.
  • Choose the right mower.  A mulching mower is ideal for large lawns because the grass clippings are finely chopped and returned to the soil, which helps retain moisture.  For smaller lawns, think of using a reel (or push) mower ...  it gives a good cut which keeps the soil moist and doesn't contribute to noise and air pollution ...  
  • Keep your blades sharp.  Dull mower blades tear the grass, and this can lead to disease and heat stress, not to mention burned grass.  Sharpen your blades twice a season.

Seed & weed

  • Drop grass seed to discourage weeds.  Use grass seeds after you get rid of your weeds.  This makes it harder for weeds to grow back and keeps your lawn thick and soil healthy.  A friendly reminder: pull or dig your weeds when the soil is moist, making it easier to get more of the weed roots while disturbing less of the soil.  And always check with your local garden centre to make sure you've got the right type of grass seeds to match your lawn's needs.
  • Use alternatives to pesticides.  North Bay's Pesticide By-law restricts the use of pesticides, but you can use certain lower-risk pest control products or use natural methods.  For more information visit our pesticides section.

Mulch maintenance retains moisture

  • Watch your mulch levels.  Too much mulch can prevent moisture from entering and not enough mulch can expose your garden to heat stress.  Check mulch levels two to three times a Summer ...  and give it a good soak on occasion, using a watering can or soaker hose.  

Stop Summer fertilizing

  • Fertilize only in Spring and Fall.  Avoid fertilizing your lawn during the Summer months or you'll get burned in more ways than one.  Fertilizing during hot and humid days will burn your grass, stress your lawn's soil and hike up your water bill as you try to revive your lawn.  All a healthy lawn needs during the Summer is the use of proper mowing techniques and 2.5 cm (1 "inch) a week of water ...  including rainfall.