Should you water your plants all summer or let Mother Nature take its course? U of I Extension Horticulture Educator Richard Hentschel says that you can find both pros and cons on both sides of the fence. Hentschel says that you should decide early if you are going to water or not because that will determine what you will do for the rest of the summer.
Those who decide to water will need to maintain a higher level of care including adding fertilizer. Cool-season grass goes dormant during the heat of summer. Keeping that grass alive with water means it will need more energy. More water and more fertilizer mean more mowing and more time spent on lawn management.
There is a potential for lawn fungal disease when you use more water and fertilizer on older lawns. Newer lawns are grown from improved seeds that are less prone to disease. A good practice is to map out your watering for when you are going to do it. If you do opt-out of watering, the lawn will stay green as long as the rain continues. When the weather turns hot and dry, your grass will suffer. Hentschel says one way to help will be to mow higher.
This option is the most cost-saving method. You will use less water, less fertilizer and less mowing which means less fuel. Hentschel suggests top-dressing the lawn annually with quality black dirt or other organic matter that will absorb and hold water for the lawn to use later.