The Basics of Hot Weather Lawn Care
Heat waves are an unavoidable part of summer in many places. However, they do not inevitably ruin lawns. With the right hot weather lawn care tips, you can help your lawn survive a scorching summer. This guide will give you the information you need to keep your lawn greener and healthier.
How To Protect Your Lawn in Hot Weather
How do you keep grass green in hot weather? How do you keep grass from dying in the heat? Lawn care in hot and dry weather takes extra effort to keep grass green or simply alive. The most important part of keeping grass alive is watering it. How often you should water will be discussed later. To keep your grass green and protect it, there are three important approaches. Watering, fertilizing and mowing must be done properly to keep it healthy.
Should I Mow Less or More During Hot Weather?
Many people like to mow their grass shorter to avoid cutting it too often. When the weather is extremely hot, grass often grows more slowly. It will stop growing at all without water. Some types of grass can live without water for weeks by going dormant.
Should you mow a lawn in extreme heat? It is better to wait until the heat wave is over if possible. For example, if a heat wave is supposed to pass in a few days, wait. However, if you received a notice from the city about long grass, mow it, but not too short.
As a rule, it is better to mow less in summer since shorter grass sustains damage in the hot sun. Because of the damage factor, it is also better to mow in the morning when the sunlight is not as intense. Mowing early can help prevent brown spots.
Another important tip for mowing is to mulch your grass instead of bagging it. Mulching helps keep the lawn cooler and traps moisture. This means fewer brown or bare spots as well. You may be wondering what temperature means it's too hot to mow the lawn. While there is no specific answer, it's best to avoid mowing at 95 degrees Fahrenheit or above.
When outdoor temperatures are between 90 and 105 degrees, heat exhaustion or cramps can occur. At higher temperatures, you can experience heat stroke. Also, people who take certain medications can experience negative side effects in the extreme heat, especially in direct sunlight. If you take any medications, check to see if you should avoid going outdoors in a heat wave.
How Often Should I Deep Water My Lawn?
Since the hot sun dries up water faster, try to water early in the morning. Under normal conditions, a lawn requires about an inch of water every week to survive. The water should penetrate several inches into the soil to reach the roots. If you have underground or above-ground sprinklers, adjust them accordingly. To achieve optimum lawn health during the hot summer months, experts recommend deep watering every other day. Aim for one-third of an inch during those watering sessions if there is no rain. Deep watering is better than watering for a few minutes every day. Watering for a short time means the water may not reach the roots.
So, how long should you water your lawn to reach those amounts? There is a simple way, and it works for underground or above-ground sprinklers. You will need a few empty tuna cans. Turn on your sprinklers. Set a can within the watering path of each sprinkler. Check on them frequently to see how fast they fill up. Alternately, pick a set time like 20 minutes. Measure the depth of the water in the cans. This method may take a trial-and-error approach. However, you will figure out how much to water after you see consistent results.
As you calculate how long to water grass, also factor in rainfall every week. Invest in a rain gauge to track this if you do not have one. The only time you should not water deeply and properly is if your city advises otherwise. For instance, cities often restrict water use during a drought.
Fertilizing in Hot Weather
You may be wondering how to grow grass in hot dry weather or make it healthier. If you are trying to fix brown spots, it is better to wait until the weather is cooler. New grass requires a lot of extra care and watering. Should you fertilize your lawn in hot weather? If you want to fertilize because the grass is growing slowly, keep in mind this is normal in hot weather.
If you want to make the lawn look healthier, do not fertilize in high temperatures if the lawn is dry. Applying fertilizer during dormancy or normal slow growth will not provide proper nourishment. Also, it can pollute the soil. A water-soluble fertilizer is ideal. Be sure to follow the watering guidelines discussed earlier after you apply the fertilizer. Without ample water, extra fertilizer during hot weather can burn the lawn.
What Fertilizer Uses the Least Water?
As a rule, liquid fertilizers use less water than most competing products. They tend to be safer to handle, easier to mix, and faster to work. Also, they do not come with as much nutrition loss. For any product you find and use, be sure to follow instructions precisely. If you are in a city with drought-related water restrictions, wait until fall to fertilize. You can fertilize your lawn several weeks before the first predicted frost date. Using a slow-release formula can help nourish your lawn and encourage root growth during the winter.
Leaving Your Grass Longer
Is it better to leave grass longer in hot weather? Grass should be long enough to protect the lawn but not long enough to warrant a citation. What is the ideal grass height in hot weather? A good rule of thumb for most grass types is a few inches in hot weather. Two inches or shorter may work for some grass types in the fall.
When you mow, try not to cut more than one-third of the grass's length. Keeping the blade length longer can help reduce brown spots. Additionally, it helps the grass stay hydrated and greener. Longer blades mean longer roots, and longer roots can take in moisture from the soil more effectively. Be sure to continue deep watering the grass.
Letting Your Grass Go Dormant
Letting your grass go dormant may be suitable in some cases. While many people associate dormancy with winter, some types of grass are dormant in the summer. Normally, most people let the grass go dormant in the fall after the first frost. It is important to prepare your lawn with proper aerating, seeding, cutting, and fertilizing before winter dormancy. You can determine the frost date in your area by looking it up in the Farmer's Almanac.
If you need to let your grass go dormant due to drought, water sparingly to protect your lawn in hot weather. Half an inch of water every two weeks will help it survive a hot and dry spell. However, while this will keep roots alive, it will not make the turf green.
Now you know how to keep your grass from dying in the summer and make it look healthier when possible. Visit your nearest True Value store to find everything you need for lawn care during hot weather.