Fescue Lawns are some of the best looking lawns during the spring in this part of the country. This year has been no exception. The cooler than normal spring helped this cool-season grass maintain it’s health and vigor into the start of summer. However, our sudden turn to July-like temperatures and higher humidities has the potential to take its toll on your beautiful Fescue lawn. There are a few things you can do to help keep Fescue looking its best.
Raise your mowing height. One common mistake that we frequently see on Fescue lawns is that the turf is being cut too short. Some mowing contractors and homeowners alike tend to cut it short, so they hopefully will not have to mow as often. In the cooler months it is possible to get away with doing that, but as the temperatures rise, your mowing height should as well. Cool-season grasses, like Fescue, that are cut too short will undergo unnecessary stress on the plant, making it more susceptible to other issues. Taller Fescue in the summer months will help to keep the soil cooler as well as help to keep the soil from drying out too quickly.
Reduce your nitrogen input. It goes against what you hear from the “experts” at the big home improvement stores, but if your if Fescue is not performing well in the heat, the answer is not more fertilizer, especially not more nitrogen. Fescue does like nitrogen, but not in stressful situations such as summer temperatures. High-nitrogen fertilizers are going to cause a lot of top growth and will tend to increase the amount of water that the plant needs. Increasing the plant’s requirements for water during the hot and dry months of summer just doesn’t make sense. At LawnAmerica, we utilize products in the summer on Fescue that contain little to no nitrogen, but instead, apply products with iron and other micro-nutrients that help maintain color and to improve the soil while developing the plant’s root system.
Be on the lookout for disease. This time of year Fescue is especially susceptible to fungus issues with Brown Patch being the most common disease diagnosed. Brown Patch will appear during hot and humid parts of the year, resulting in irregular patches of yellow or brown turf that if left untreated will wilt and die. Cultural practices, such as proper mowing height, watering, and fertility will help to lessen the chances of Brown Patch. Fungicide applications are available to help control Brown Patch and in many cases will need to be applied every 3-4 weeks or until weather conditions improve to keep the disease in check.
Water early in the morning. Proper irrigation is essential to keep Fescue performing its best, especially in the heat of summer. The best time is early morning between 5:00 and 8:00 am. By watering early in the morning, you help to ensure that more of the water makes it into the soil. If you water later in the day, wind can blow your sprinklers off target and the heat of the day will cause more of the moisture to evaporate before being absorbed. Watering late at night is equally detrimental. Warm nighttime temps with wet grass blades create perfect conditions for fungus to thrive and spread. It is also imperative that you resist the urge every day. Deep, infrequent watering causes roots to grow deeper and will help to prevent distress in the plant due to heat or drought conditions. While it may seem counter-intuitive, more frequent and shorter bursts of irrigation are detrimental to the plant because the roots don’t have a need to grow deeply and instead reside in the layer of soil that is most likely to dry out first.
Fescue is a lot of work. However, with a little extra attention over the summer months, you can keep it healthy and sustain it until the cooler temperatures of Fall arrive.
Do you have specific questions about your Fescue lawn? Give us a call; we would love to help.