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Best practices for summer grass care

We ask an expert how to treat the most common types of grass

The following companies participate in our Accreditation Program: TruGreen

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The summer heat can be detrimental to your lawn, especially the grass. We asked Brian Feldman, who has a degree in plant science and directs technical operations at TruGreen, to break down how to keep the common types of grasses green.

Tall fescue

Tall fescue is a robust species of grass that thrives in many environments. It’s resistant to drought and has the best heat tolerance of the northern grasses. These grasses have a medium-fine texture, very prominent veins on the leaf blades and a pinkish color at the stems.

tall fescue grass
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  • Popular areas: Mid-Atlantic, parts of the Northeast and Midwest, Central Plains and Southeast

Recommended treatments: Tall fescue grass should be mowed as high as possible, roughly three to four inches. Try to mow about once per week, or less often if you live in an area affected by drought. It’s best to water in the mornings three or four times per week (not every day). Usually, there’s no need to fertilize or apply weed control treatments in the summer.

Kentucky bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass has a good tolerance for traffic and cold but poor shade tolerance. Under the right conditions, it can grow lush and vibrant. These grasses have a boat-shaped tip, a prominent midvein and medium texture.

kentucky bluegrass
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  • Popular areas: Northeast, Midwest, Plains, Upper Midwest, Pacific Northwest and Mountain region

Recommended treatments: Since Kentucky bluegrass has a relatively shallow root system, it’s essential to keep it watered during dry spells. During the summer, it should be mowed at 2.5 to 3.5 inches. Keep an eye out for white grubs and sod webworms — insecticides may be required.

Perennial ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass is known for its fast germination and annual regrowth. It has excellent traffic tolerance but the least heat and drought tolerance of northern grasses. These grasses have prominent midveins, glossy leaf surfaces and reddish coloring at the base of the stems.

perennial ryegrass
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  • Popular areas: Northeast, Midwest, Plains, Upper Midwest, Pacific Northwest and Mountain region

Recommended treatments: Perennial ryegrass requires medium levels of water, so you need to water two or three times weekly during the summer. It should be mowed at 2.5 to 3.5 inches once or twice each week. Ryegrass is prone to thatch development, which can be remedied with annual aeration.

Zoysia grass

Zoysia grass is a popular grass in warmer climates because it’s known to do well against heat. It has a medium to fine texture and no prominent midvein on the leaf surface.

zoysia grass
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  • Popular areas: Zoysia grass is common throughout the U.S. but most prominent in the Southeast

Recommended treatments: It’s smart to water Zoysia grass an inch or so each week. It should be mowed at one to 2.5 inches. Applications to treat crabgrass, sand spurs and other weeds are sometimes necessary during the summer. Depending on the type of soil where you live, aerification might also benefit your yard.

St. Augustine grass

St. Augustine tends to do very well in southern states, especially around the gulf, because it thrives in heat and humidity. This grass has the best shade tolerance of the southern grasses. However, it’s also the most susceptible to insects and diseases and has poor cold resilience. It has a coarse texture and a prominent midvein.

st augustine grass
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  • Popular areas: Florida, Texas and parts of California

Recommended treatments: St. Augustine grass will likely require fertilizer and insecticides during the summer to treat chinch bugs and patches. Bluish patches mean the grass is too dry — try irrigating with about an inch of water. Yellow spots typically indicate a nutrient deficiency that can be cleared up with potassium and nitrogen applications. Like tall fescue grass, it should be mowed as high as three to four inches.

Bermuda grass

Bermuda grass handles heat, humidity and high traffic very well. These grasses are known for efficient water usage, good drought tolerance and poor shade tolerance. It has a fine texture and no prominent midvein on the leaf surface.

bermuda grass
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  • Popular areas: Southeast, Florida, South Central and Southern California

Recommended treatments: Bermuda grasses benefit from summer fertilizer applications. It should be mowed at one to 2.5 inches — try to mow often enough that each time you cut less than one-third of the blade. You can water Bermuda grass up to four times each week but should only use about half an inch of water at a time.

Taking care of your lawn is a critical step to beautifying your house, and we hope Brian Feldman at TruGreen was able to guide you in the right direction. For more information about caring for your lawn, check out our guides on lawn care services and garden equipment.

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