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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 bluegrassBella® Bluegrass and generic fescue.

1. Keep Up with Summer Mowing (and Reduce the Time Spent on This Chore)

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.

Note: Get ahead of summer mowing and check out our tips on reducing time spent mowing your lawn as it gets hotter outside: How to Mow Your Lawn Less During the Summer.
Mowing Fescue Grass
2. Keep Your Heat-Stressed Lawn Strong with the Right Summer Fertilizer

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 summer fertilization than it would in the spring or fall when it’s actively growing. In fact, the wrong summer lawn 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 thin layer of top dressing to keep it 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 Lawnifi® 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.

Both Lawnifi Foundation and the Summer Fertilizer Box cover 5,000 sq. ft. Learn more in Why Use Lawnifi Fertilizer? or by clicking on the product below.

Fertilizing Lawn Topsoil
3. Make Sure Your Lawn is Hydrated…But Not Too Hydrated

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 fescue or bluegrass 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 cool. Read more about this in How to Top Dress Your Lawn with Compost.

watering lawn with hose sprayer
4. Be Cautious with Weed Control

We advise that you don’t make applications of any herbicides at this time. This is especially true for cool season grasses like fescues and bluegrass. If you do, be sure to spot treat each weed or consider hand-pulling them instead. Summer is the worst time for herbicide applications for most grass types. When temperatures reach or exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit, herbicides will damage your grass.

It’s best to wait until it gets cooler before applying a post-emergent herbicide to any weeds in your yard. In the future, apply a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring to reduce summer weeds and be sure to apply a pre-emergent herbicide in the fall to keep fall and winter weeds out.

If temperatures are consistently below 85 degrees, it’s generally safe to apply post-emergent herbicides for any summer annual and perennial weeds. However, we suggest waiting until it gets closer to the fall season. If temperatures are low one day and exceed 85 degrees in the following days, the grass is still vulnerable to damage from the herbicide.

Learn more in How to Control Weeds During the Summer.

A few common weeds you might see during the summer are knotweedspurgelespedezacrabgrassgoosegrassdallisgrassnutsedge and sandspur. If temperatures are below 85 degrees, it is safe to apply post-emergent herbicide for any summer annual and perennial weeds. 

Pictured above from left to right: Knotweed, spurge, lespedeza and crabgrass.

Pictured above from left to right: Goosegrass, dallisgrass, nutsedge and sandbur.

5. Watch Out for Insect Infestations or Damage

Insects can be a real nuisance in the summer. Bugs like fire ants or mosquitos aren’t the only ones to watch out for—there are a lot of insects that can cause severe damage to your lawn. One of the most common summer insects is grub worms.

Insect Control In Your Zoysia Lawn Grub Worm

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.

6. Lookout for Bluegrass and Fescue Disease Outbreaks

Be on the the lookout for any signs of diseases. If brown patch, pythium blight, powdery mildew 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 you can read about here. 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. Learn more in Summer Disease Control in Cool Season Lawns.

Summer lawn care tips for your bluegrass or fescue grass 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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