Iowa lawn care can be quite difficult, with its rich soil that is conducive to growing not only grass, but many types of invasive species as well. Iowa has temperate summers that can sometimes become quite hot. With the cool spring and autumn weather, it is important to obtain a turfgrass that is capable of withstanding a number of difficult conditions. Further, you must also consider treatments such as aeration and supplemental watering.
One of the biggest questions with Iowa lawns is determining the type of grass to use. Iowa has many popular varieties including ryegrass and bluegrass, which is known as a transition turfgrass that can thrive in a wide variety of conditions. Some may also consider a mixture of warm season and cool season grasses to ensure their lawn has adequate coverage, no matter what the weather may bring. This is a risky strategy, however, because one grass type may effectively choke the other one out.
One of the biggest problems with Iowa turfgrass is finding a way to keep out all of the intrusive weeds. Iowa has a number of problematic species capable of invading a lawn, including dandelions, thistles and white clover. A broadleaf herbicide can control these weeds before or after emergence. Crabgrass can be a problem in the warmer months. Use a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring, before the soil temperature reaches 50 degrees, to help control this common species.
Though Iowa generally receives enough rain for most turfgrass purposes, there may be times when drought forces supplemental watering efforts. This is especially true for ryegrass lawns, which are not very drought tolerant. Kentucky bluegrass may be a better option if you do not want to water quite as much. This grass has a moderate ability to withstand drought conditions.
Iowa topsoil does not generally have a high clay content, but can still be very dense, which may not allow air to easily penetrate. Therefore, if you find your yard struggling or yellowing and can find no other suitable explanation, consider the possibility of oxygen deprivation. Aerating the yard, particularly in the fall or spring, is a good troubleshooting measure for Iowa lawns. You may be able to get by with aeration once every two years for general-use lawns.
While there are many who believe you should fertilize your lawn twice a year, in the spring and the fall, in Iowa and other northern locations, you should be able to get by with just an annual feeding. Fertilize in the fall, which helps the roots store nutrients to get through the long Iowa winter. Grass usually goes dormant in November, which makes September the best time for fertilization.