The following comes from Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith:
Did you remember to stop the mail and newspapers and let the neighbors know you’d be gone when you went on vacation this summer? What did you do about your lawn? If you planned to be gone for more than a week, did you have someone mow it for you? How about watering it? Vacationing during hot and dry July and August might mean you will need someone to water for you.
During these hot days, sustaining your lawn is important. If you choose to continue watering, clay soils should get a good soaking weekly; sandy soils should be watered at least, ½” twice per week and growing lawns need one inch per week. Watering early in the day saves water lost to evaporation and reduces disease problems. Actually, you could just let the lawn go dormant for the rest of the season. It will turn brown during this stressful period, but once the weather cools and fall rains commence, it should green up again. There is still time to lay sod if you have a new lawn but it will require extra care. Be certain the soil surface stays moist until the sod roots into the soil below. Once rooted it will still need thorough although less frequent watering.
Do not fertilize dormant or non-irrigated lawns now. Fertilization can cause damage and may even kill the grass.
Crabgrass may be starting to appear. Now would be a great time to pinpoint its location on your lawn map making it easier to target pesticide application as crabgrass is usually eradiated in early spring.
Mow grass at 3-3 ½” tall. Taller grass is more drought tolerant and better able to compete with pests. A plus to warmer dryer weather is that you can mow less often. Leave grass clippings where they fall. They impart organic matter, nitrogen and earthworm food.
Rules of thumb: mow high, keep pests under control and choose proper watering patterns.