Happy Lawn, Happy Life
"Limit stress and both you and your lawn shall be made whole"
-Zen and the Art of Lawn Maintenance
I have to come clean...I made up that quote. I did so to illustrate the point that limiting stress is just as important for your lawn as it is for you or the Dalai Lama.
Lawn stress comes in many forms. The most obvious is from heat and drought. It's hot. It's dry. The grass turns brown. It doesn't take a turf scientist (way more impressive than a rocket scientist by the by) to figure that out. Keep in mind though, drought stress weakens the grass, making it more susceptible to other forms of stress doing serious damage.
Work deadlines, screaming kids and hiding that dented fender from your spouse are stressful enough. Why add a dead lawn to that mix if you can avoid it?
Limiting Drought Stress
If you have a properly programmed sprinkler system you can skip ahead. The rule of thumb is your lawn will need 1" of water each week to do well and 1/2" of water every two weeks to not die. This, of course, is water that actually penetrates the soil to get to the roots. An evening thunderstorm that dumps a half inch of water in 15 minutes doesn't count as most of that runs off target. If your ability/desire to water is limited, remember that when you do water, be sure it's enough to wet the entire root zone. Fifteen minutes of water ain't helping.
Control Lawn Disease
With our heat and humidity comes evening thunderstorms. The rain comes down too fast to be of much help but it will leave the grass blades wet all night long. This encourages disease activity. There are a number of preventative things that can be done (Here is a great blog post on the topic). Chief among them are remove infected clippings and restrict your watering to the morning. If the infection is severe enough, treat with the appropriate fungicide.
As your lawn becomes less competitive in the dog days of summer, it leaves room for opportunistic weeds to take hold. Not only can weeds crowd out stressed turf, they rob it of needed moisture and nutrients. Along with spring pre-emergent prevention, spot post-emergent weed control is a must throughout the summer.
Apply a systemic insect control early in the Summer. This is an insecticide that is incorporated into the grass plant. A preventative systemic insect control will selectively kill the bugs that feed on the grass leaving beneficial insects be. This is of particular importance for controlling root-feeding grubs.
You should always follow good cutting habits: Never cut off more the 1/3 of the grass leaf and always keep your mower blade sharp. During the heat of summer, you should add mowing at a height of 3" to 3 1/2" and avoid cutting during the heat of the day.
Limit Foot Traffic
There you go. I know getting your lawn through summer in decent shape isn't exactly achieving total conscientiousness...but it couldn't hurt!