Hot Weather Lawn Care - Managing Your Lawn In Extreme Heat

Dry Dead Grass
(Image credit: FotoDuets)

A lawn in summer heat is usually a brown lawn, but that doesn’t mean it has to be unhealthy or that it can’t rebound. Many people choose to let their grass brown up and return to green on cooler days. Whether you let this happen or fight to keep it green, use these tips to maintain healthy grass. 

The Lawn in Heat Waves

In most of the U.S., lawns are made up of cool weather grasses. These include Kentucky bluegrass, fescue, and perennial rye grass. They grow best in temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees F. (16-24 C.). 

When the hot days of July arrive, these grasses naturally go dormant. This means the lawn turns brown, which may be natural but is less than ideal for homeowners. You have two choices: let it brown and go dormant (it will green up again as the days cool) or try to keep it going. 

Hot Weather Lawn Care Tips

Lawn care in hot weather is different from on cooler days. It’s important to treat your grass a bit more gently and to avoid doing too much: 

  • Cut long. When you cut your grass during hot days, keep it long. A good general rule is to never cut more than one-third of the grass height. By keeping it longer, you allow the grass to develop stronger roots and a greater tolerance to heat and drought stress. 
  • Sharpen mower blades. Dull blades only stress grass more by damaging it. When blades are sharp, the grass will heal more quickly from each cut. 
  • Avoid mowing. In fact, it’s even better to avoid cutting the grass at all for a lawn in extreme heat or during a drought. Shady patches may be growing more and can be cut more frequently. 
  • Water deeply but infrequently. Overwatering grass won’t help. It generally does better when soil is a little dry. During hot summer days, water your lawn deeply but not necessarily daily. 
  • Water in the morning. The heat of the day will evaporate water quickly, so water the lawn early in the morning. This will allow the soil and roots to soak up more. 
  • Don’t fertilize. Avoid using fertilizers during the hottest part of the summer. Grass uses a lot of energy at this time of year, more than it produces. Fertilizing diverts that much-needed energy into new growth. This can lead to unnecessary stress. 
  • Keep foot traffic minimal. For already stressed grass, foot traffic can cause damage. Keep people off the lawn while the heat persists. 
Mary Ellen Ellis

Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.