For the cool-season grasses that dominate most of the northern United States, summer is a precariously warm stretch between the peak growing seasons of spring and autumn. According to the Climate Prediction Center, drought conditions will continue to afflict portions of the northwest, particularly along the Rockies, complicating lawn maintenance in the affected areas. Meanwhile, high rates of precipitation in Great Lakes region could increase the risk of flooding in surrounding areas.
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. In the Great Lakes region, a spike in the mosquito population is one possible result of summer flooding. 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.
Be sure to space fertilizer applications at least three months apart, using a spreader to apply the product evenly across the landscape and adjusting your watering habits to accommodate for the increased growth. To fight lawn pests while you fertilize, consider using a combined solution like Scotts Turf Builder Summerguard Lawn Food with Insect Control.
(Not sure if the North is the right zone for you? See our zone map for more.)