August Lawn Tips

dormant lawn

Dormant lawn. Photo: University of Illinois Extension

(More tips from HGIC)

  • In dry periods grasses go dormant but recover when rain returns. Newly seeded or sodded lawns may actually be dead and will need to be reseeded.
  • Mid-August through mid-October is the best time to start new lawns and renovate or overseed existing lawns. We recommend a turf-type tall fescue cultivar at a rate of 4 lbs. of seed per 1,000 sq. ft. of area for overseeding, or 8 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. for new lawns.
  • If your lawn area contains more than 50% weeds, consider a total lawn renovation. Newly seeded turf must be watered regularly. See (PDF) HG 102, Lawn Establishment, Renovation, and Overseeding.
  • Mow ‘em high and let ‘em lie. Cut your cool-season turf (fescues and bluegrass) to a height of 3 - 4 inches and leave the clippings on the lawn where they will decompose naturally.
  • Avoid mowing your lawn during extreme dry and hot weather. Mowing wounds grass blades creating more surface area for plant moisture to escape.
  • Fertilize bermudagrass and zoysiagrass no later than mid-August with 0.9 lbs. of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn. A single application cannot exceed 0.9 lb. of total nitrogen per 1,000 sq. feet and 0.7 lb. of soluble nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Look for a lawn maintenance fertilizer that has zero phosphorus, which is the middle number of the fertilizer analysis. For application information refer to the product label.
  • Crabgrass is forming seed heads at this time. Control severe crabgrass problems next spring through the use of pre-emergent herbicides. Over-seeding your lawn this fall will thicken the turf will also help combat crabgrass next year.
  • Broadleaf weeds, like clover, ground ivy, and wild strawberry, are usually growing vigorously at this time in the summer. Weeds need to be actively growing for the herbicide to be most effective. Wait until there is rain to stimulate the weeds growth before applying an herbicide. Remember that lawn herbicides can damage or kill non-target plants and animals if used incorrectly.
  • Brown patch is a common fungal disease of tall fescue lawns that appears as thin, brown areas. It is the only common fungal disease of tall fescue. Grasses will green up and recover in the fall. No chemical controls are recommended. This disease is typically worse on over-fertilized and irrigated lawns.
  • Summer patch and dollar spot may be seen now on some irrigated bluegrass lawns. No fungicide sprays are recommended once the disease has already started. Control thatch and soil compaction, maintain fertility by applying fertilizer in the fall and overseed with resistant cultivars.
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