Managing your active lawn in the summer: Tips and advice for helping your grass recover quickly
It’s still summer and you and your family are still active outside. The neighborhood kids are playing a pick-up game of soccer in your front yard. The cousins are coming over for volleyball and some brews. There’s still time for camping in the back yard or to squeeze in one more movie night under the stars. There’s grilling going on and suddenly it’s an all-night celebration outside.
Your lawn has seen a lot of activity these last few months. Just the name “lawn darts” infers some damage to your turf, along with all that running and walking—and let’s not forget the family dog.
What happens to high traffic lawns
Yes, grass is a hardy plant and can bounce back after being tread upon. But constant use can take a toll on your lawn. The high volume of traffic can compact the soil. Depending on the topography of your lawn, this compacted soil can stay drier or more wet than the less compacted areas. High traffic and also create worn or completely bare patches. Lastly, these worn spots are fair game for easy-to-establish weeds to gain a foothold into your otherwise beautiful lawn.
One way to combat these effects is to manage the damage before it happens. Confine activity to a certain area, for instance. And keep the grass high, rather than short. This give the soil and grass stems more of a cushion as feet trod over top.
Post-activity lawn care checklist
You can’t always anticipate the activity and traffic that will happen to your lawn. You’ll want to have a few solutions in your back pocket for when portions of your lawn see more than the usual amount of activity.
Cordon off the area. The lawn needs time to recover. Block it off so it doesn’t sustain more damage.
Water the lawn. This helps to revive grass that’s seen a lot of abuse. It also helps to loosen the soil for the next step.
Aerate the affected area. Compacted soils need more air and nutrients to make it down to the grass roots. You can do with through the process of aeration, which removes small plugs of soil from the lawn. Aerating can be performed with manual devices that you push over the lawn, or with machines that attach to lawn tractors.
Add nutrients. Lay down some compost or apply an appropriate fertilizer to help rejuvenate the root system. *Special note: Only do this if your grass looks relatively healthy, meaning no brown spots are seen. If you have several brown or dead spots in your grass, you may want to consider watering and seeding as your first line of defense.
Overseed. Add a layer of grass seed over the impacted area, preferably in late summer to early fall. This new grass will fill in bare spots and weave itself into the existing lawn. This results in a stronger lawn rather than waiting for the existing weakened grass to gain back its strength.
With a little bit of repair work as we head into fall, your lawn will be happy, healthy and ready for you to get active again next spring.