Most lawns start to struggle once the temperature reaches 80 degrees or so, but with a few adjustments to your summer lawn care and maintenance practices you can mitigate the damage and promote your lawn’s vitality throughout the summer.
Mowing height adjustment is probably the most important of these adjustments to prepare lawns for hot weather. Taller grass develops deeper, more drought-resistant roots and shades the soil to reduce water loss and discourage the germination of weeds. In the summer, it’s best to mow at heights around 3 to 3.5 inches. It’s also recommended that no more than 1/3 of the grass blade’s height be removed at one time, as this can stress your lawn.
Don’t dump your clippings! If your mower collects the clippings, you should redistribute them across the lawn to preserve moisture and recycle nutrients back into the ground.
Your lawn should receive at least an inch of water per week through rainfall or irrigation. Take care that you don’t over-water. When at all possible, you should water your lawn in the early morning. This way, the water has a chance to be absorbed before it’s dried by the hot sun. Watering in the evening doesn’t allow the grass enough time to dry and this can encourage disease.
Chemical fertilizers can burn lawns in hot weather. Organic fertilizers are less likely to burn lawns, but it’s still recommended to wait until early fall to fertilize.
It’s not recommended to seed mid-summer. Spring and late summer to early fall are ideal times to seed the lawn.
If an herbicide is needed in the summer, sparingly use a post-emergent herbicide that targets weeds specifically without damaging the grass. It’s important to avoid spraying in temperatures above 85 degrees as the heat will amplify the stress on the grass and damage your lawn. The best method of controlling weeds in the summer is maintaining a thick lawn at least three inches tall. The combination of the other practices we discussed (proper mowing, irrigation, and fertilization) will discourage many weeds from ever germinating in the first place.