Are you guilty of making these two common mistakes when treating lawns in the summer?

Stopping Applications for Heat

Many lawn care operators have heard the recommendation to stop applications during the peak of summer heat. Halting fertilizer and pesticide applications for heat is a common mistake in the industry, stemming from the fear that these applications will be wasted. While it’s true that your normal application strategy could be less effective in the heat of summer, that doesn’t mean you should stop applications altogether.

Alternative application strategies are the solution to summer stress in lawns. First, consider liquid products as an alternative to granular fertilizers and pesticides in the summer. One reason people advise against summer applications is that granular products typically need water to activate and be effective. Rainfall can be scarce in the summer, and homeowners don’t always irrigate as instructed after an application. Liquid products typically have quicker uptake, allowing them to act as a triage unit for stressed lawns in the summer.

Another alternative to consider is biostimulants in place of traditional applications in the summer. Biostimulants are ingredients that support soil and plant health by stimulating microbial growth, nutrient uptake, and plant resilience. These results are all helpful in the fight against summer stress.

Foliar-Pak is a good source of both application alternatives described above. With a full line of liquid nutrients, Foliar-Pak can help ensure efficient lawn applications through the summer. Many Foliar-Pak products also contain biostimulants to support effective applications. For example, Micros Plus contains humic acid and seaweed extract to act as a biostimulant. Colonise Bio LTO is another product that contains biostimulants, promoting color response and plant resilience.

By continuing applications, you can keep your customers’ lawns healthy through the summer. This proactive approach will minimize the damage control you have to do in the fall, ultimately saving your customers money. While homeowners may be hesitant about summer lawn applications, you can take the opportunity to educate them about the long-term benefits of the alternatives recommended here.

Using Heavy Equipment Through Drought

Another common mistake lawn care operators make in the summer is using heavy equipment on stressed lawns. Drought-stressed lawns are especially susceptible to damage from heavy machinery, even as they’re just entering drought stress.

During drought conditions, soil moisture is low. Therefore, turfgrass doesn’t naturally take up enough water to maintain turgidity. Grass blades become brittle and more breakable under the weight of equipment or even foot traffic.

When a lawn is experiencing drought stress, it literally can’t bounce back as well from traffic. Heavy equipment can damage the crown of the plant, which makes it harder for the lawn to deal with and recover from stress. Traffic damage on drought-stressed turfgrass looks like burn marks occurring in the tracks of heavy equipment. In extreme cases, it may even appear as footprint burn marks from foot traffic.

Lawn care operators often misidentify traffic damage on drought-stressed lawns. Its appearance is similar to that of Ascochyta leaf blight, a disease that can occur as a result of drought and traffic stress. Ascochyta leaf blight is not the primary problem, though. Minimizing traffic stress during drought conditions will help minimize the risk of this secondary Ascochyta leaf blight problem.

As mentioned above, even foot traffic can damage lawns under drought stress. It’s best to keep all machinery, from mowers to ride-on spreaders, off of lawns to prevent damage during drought stress. In cases of extreme drought, encourage your customers to minimize foot traffic on their lawns as well.

During normal conditions, however, don’t be afraid to use heavy equipment on lawns. When soil moisture levels are normal, the plant has the turgidity to bounce back from traffic. This is true any time of day, even in the summer. As explained in the first part of this blog post, summer lawn care is all about doing what you can when you can.

Don’t stop applications altogether because of heat, but don’t use heavy equipment during drought. Monitor conditions closely to determine what will be most beneficial to the lawns you treat and, ultimately, the customers you serve.