We talked in our last blog about how to properly care for warm-season turf. Today we want to look at the other side of the spectrum and talk about cool season grass, or more specifically about fescue.
As you might suspect a grass such as fescue that is part of the cool-season family of grasses doesn’t particularly like the heat of summer. While it is true that fescue may not thrive this time of year, it is possible to protect it and prepare it for when colder weather returns later in the year.
First and foremost, make sure you are not cutting it too short. Fescue, this time of year, should be maintained at between 3.5 to 4 inches in height (or taller) and should never be scalped, especially when it’s hot. The taller the grass, the more shade it provides to the soil helping to keep the plant cooler and maintain essential moisture in the root zone.
Irrigation is vital as well. Ideally, your lawn would receive at least 1.5 inches of rain each week. Some weeks you may get lucky enough for Mother Nature to cooperate, but in most cases, you will likely have to utilize a sprinkler system or hand watering to supplement. Watering in the morning is ideal, but if your schedule doesn’t allow for early mornings, anytime during the day is better than not watering at all. It is crucial not to water late in the evening or overnight to help reduce chances of fungus activity.
Fertilizers can be applied in the summer, however, it is imperative that the fertilizer be comprised of organic material that does not contain quick-release nitrogen sources. Quick-release products that are high in nitrogen will burn fescue in the summertime, causing more damage than benefit. LawnAmerica utilizes a liquid organic product that in addition to a small amount of nitrogen also has iron, humic acid, and other micro-nutrients that not only benefit the plant but help to improve the structure of the soil.
Despite best efforts though, fescue will thin out during the heat of the summer. Since most turf type fescues do not spread laterally, any thin areas will have to be overseeded later in the fall. Applying seed in the heat will be of little benefit. However, when the nighttime temperatures start to cool off in September and early October, seeding can be accomplished successfully.