28 May Summer Maintenance Tips for Your Bluegrass or Fescue Lawn
Summer Maintenance Tips for Your Bluegrass or Fescue Lawn
Summer is here and it’s time to get outside and enjoy the outdoors! When it comes to inviting guests over, lawn care nuts like us enjoy having the best looking yard on the block. Sod University combines a few lawn care tips for your bluegrass and fescue this summer. Be sure to also check out our series of Homeowner Maintenance Guides for generic bluegrass, Bella® Bluegrass and generic fescue.
Bluegrass and Fescue Summer Mowing
Summer mowing is one of the most dreaded outdoor chores as temperatures rise and physical exertion becomes exhausting. It’s even more annoying that you have to keep up with frequent mowing because when the grass gets too tall, the lawn mower becomes harder to push.
Bluegrass and fescue mowing heights during the summer generally range from about 2.5–3.5 inches in height, however, if your grass is located in partial shade, keep the mowing height a little higher. Never remove more than a third of the leaf blade. If more than this amount is removed, the grass will stress and turn brown for a short period of time.
If you are returning from a summer vacation, you may have to mow multiple times to get the grass back to its desired height. Be sure to wait about 3–5 days between each mowing. If you want to reduce the amount of time spent outside mowing your lawn as much as possible, check out our blog on Strategies for Reduced Mowing Inputs During the Summer.
Bluegrass and Fescue Summer Fertilization
Bluegrass and fescue require different nutrients as seasons change. This is because outdoor temperatures change throughout the year and so do soil temperatures. Although most cool season grass goes dormant in certain areas at this time, your lawn will more than likely endure some form of stress from the summer heat.
With that being said, there are a few things you can do to help your bluegrass or fescue lawn at this time. Cool season grass requires less fertilizer applications in the summer than it would in the spring or fall when it’s actively growing. In fact, the wrong fertilizer combined with excess sunlight during the summer can easily cause scorched spots in your yard. If the lawn seems to become too warm or starts accumulating scorched, brown spots as a result of the summer heat, consider adding a layer of top dressing to keep it shaded and cool. Top dressing with a good compost is an alternate way to provide a light fertilizer to cool season grass during the summer. Be sure not to apply heavy layers of top dressing as this may smother the grass. Compost is typically black in color, so it may contribute to heating if a heavy layer is left on top of the grass canopy. Read more about this in How to Top Dress Your Lawn with Compost.
The LawnifiTM Summer Fertilizer Box is a liquid fertilizer program designed to give lawns the nutrients they need to survive and flourish during the hot summer months. If your bluegrass or fescue lawn doesn’t go completely dormant, the Summer Fertilizer Box will help immensely. With one bottle of Maintain and two bottles of Recover, the Summer Fertilizer Box’s application schedule will give your lawn nutrition all summer long. Maintain’s 16-0-4 formulation works to fortify your lawn with potassium, amino acids and carbon. Recover’s 13-0-0 formulation was created to provide the optimal balance of nutrients to lawns as temperatures start to rise. In addition to nitrogen, Recover delivers critical micronutrients like soluble manganese, iron, sulfur and carbon, which help your lawn get through the dog days of summer. Each bottle of Lawnifi easily hooks right up to the end of your garden hose for an even spray application.
Bluegrass and Fescue Summer Watering
The summer season comes with significantly warmer temperatures and a longer amount of time with sunlight. This frequently tempts homeowners to water the lawn more often to make sure it’s hydrated. This is not recommended. Despite the hot temperatures that occur during the summer, bluegrass and fescue should only need about one inch of water on a weekly basis. This is best accomplished with one or two waterings a week. Water in the early mornings for longer periods of time, less frequently and take any rainfall into consideration. Watering your lawn in the early morning decreases the dew period. As a result, this also decreases the amount of time the grass blades are wet, which is a helpful disease management practice. If you aren’t sure how much water your lawn is receiving, consider conducting a simple and cheap irrigation audit. If the lawn seems to become too warm or starts accumulating scorched, brown spots, instead of adding more water, consider adding a layer of top dressing to keep it shaded and cool. Read more about this in How to Top Dress Your Lawn with Compost.
Bluegrass and Fescue Summer Weed Control
The summer season is one of the worst seasons for herbicide applications on any type of turfgrass. When temperatures reach or exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit, herbicide chemicals will damage the grass. It is best to wait until it gets cooler and apply a post-emergent herbicide to any weeds that are currently in your yard. Be sure to apply a pre-emergent herbicide in the fall to keep fall and winter weeds out. Learn more about the timing for herbicide applications in The Best and Worst Times for Herbicide Applications.
This doesn’t stop you from removing weeds during the summer altogether, though. You can always hand-pull or dig out the weeds. You can also spot-treat them with a non-selective herbicide like glyphosate or other non-selective alternatives. Be careful though—non-selective herbicides will kill any plant it comes in contact with whereas a selective herbicide, as its name suggests, will kill off certain types of weeds it’s labeled to treat. Glyphosate and other non-selective herbicides will kill any vegetation it comes in contact with…this includes your grass.
A few common weeds you might see during the summer are knotweed, spurge, lespedeza, crabgrass, goosegrass, dallisgrass, nutsedge and sandbur. If temperatures are below 85 degrees, it is safe to apply post-emergent herbicide for any summer annual and perennial weeds. Be sure to read the label thoroughly before application.
Pictured above from left to right: Knotweed, spurge, lespedeza and crabgrass.
Pictured above from left to right: Goosegrass, dallisgrass, nutsedge and sandbur.
Preventative treatments for grub worms can be made anytime around June, which is around the time adult beetles are flying around and laying eggs. Apply a systemic insecticide like Merit 0.5G to prevent grubs from taking over. If you notice grub worms in your lawn, Scotts GrubEx or Dylox 6.2 Granular Insecticide can be applied as treatment.
Some of the insect control products listed below are labeled to treat these common insects. Be sure to read the label thoroughly before application. Learn more about different types of lawn insects in Insect Identification.
- Coverage: A 30 lb. bag covers 10,000 sq. ft. for white grubs, weevils, chinch bugs, cranberry girdlers and mole crickets.
- Active Ingredient: Trichlorfon 6.2%.
- Ease of Use: Requires a broadcast or drop spreader for application.
- Best Used On/For: Outdoor general insect control.
Bluegrass and Fescue Summer Fungus Control
Be on the the lookout for any signs of diseases. If large patch or other diseases are a common problem in your grass, apply a fungicide at a preventative rate. This will help the grass enter into the warmer months in a healthier condition. If you’ve had lawn disease before, you may need to make multiple applications in affected areas. If you use a granular variety, water the lawn immediately after application to help soil absorption. Consider mapping those areas because fungicide treatment can be expensive.
Although certain chemical solutions found in fungicides have the ability to cure lawn disease, there are a few cultural methods you can perform to keep disease outbreaks from occurring beforehand. These cultural methods are common maintenance practices found in our Bluegrass and Fescue Homeowner Maintenance Guides. Overtime, these maintenance practices promote a healthy lawn that can withstand stressors and fight off things like insects or disease.
Oftentimes, simply keeping up with appropriate maintenance practices keeps your bluegrass or fescue lawn strong and healthy so that it can better fight off disease outbreaks or quickly recover from them. These practices include mowing at the right height, using a regular fertilizer regimen, watering your lawn so that it receives one inch of water per week, regularly applying preventive applications of weed, insect and disease control and making sure the grass receives sunlight throughout the day.
However, there are a few recommended disease control products we’ve listed below. Be sure to read the label thoroughly before application. You can learn more about these diseases in Identifying Common Lawn Diseases.
- Coverage: One bottle covers 2,500 sq. ft.
- Active Ingredients(s): Propiconazole 1.45% and Lamda-cyhalothrin 0.08%.
- Ease of Use: Hooks up to your garden hose for an even spray application.
- Best Used On/For: Outdoor topical/contact fungus and general insect control.
Summer maintenance tips for your bluegrass or fescue lawn are mostly about keeping it healthy and stress-free during the hot summer temperatures. This will help it continue to thrive when temperatures eventually cool down and we enter into the fall season. We will see you back here in the fall for our updated fall maintenance tips.
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