If you live in the Midwest, you’re probably growing a cool-season grass like fescue or bluegrass. Summer can be hard on these grasses, which grow best in the spring and fall. Adding to your worries, the Climate Prediction Center predicts that drought conditions will continue to effect some areas of the Midwest this year, complicating the usual lawn care routine. Some extra care may be needed to help your lawn get through the dry season.
With cool-season grasses, you can do your lawn a world of good during the summer months by increasing the height of your mower blades, even as high as 3 and 1/2 inches. Taller grass blades cast more shade, keeping soil temperatures low and providing more competition for any weeds that might otherwise make inroads to your lawn.
If you live in an area affected by drought, consider letting your lawn go dormant until autumn. Even when not dormant, your cool-season grasses are likely growing so little this time of year that you should water your lawn just enough to keep it from wilting. You need only water a couple of times each week, but water deeply each time and watch carefully the first time or two to ensure that you’re not losing valuable water to runoff. For tips on how to handle drought stress, see our article on treating common summer lawn care problems.
If you’re watering properly and evenly, brown spots may indicate that the grub population beneath your turf has reached dangerous levels. For more tips on dealing with white grubs, review our post on common lawn pests. Properly used, a pesticide like Ortho Bug-B-Gon can be an effective solution for other kinds of lawn-damaging insects. Along the Illinois and Mississippi River valleys, summer flooding could lead to a spike in mosquito populations. Ensuring that your lawn has proper drainage can help reduce stagnant pools as water recede. If you see mosquitoes beginning to swarm above your grass, a lawn treatment that works as a garden hose attachment, like Cutter Backyard Bug Control Spray can help kill emerging pests for up to eight weeks.
Particularly in areas affected by drought, it’s important to avoid over-fertilizing your lawn. Keeping up with the more rapid growth will mean increasing the amount of water available to your grass. If you’re lucky enough to have ready precipitation or an auxiliary supply of water, consider using a combination fertilizer and pest control like Scotts Turf Builder Summerguard Lawn Food with Insect Control.
(Not sure if the Midwest is the right zone for you? See our zone map for more.)