The summer heat can not only be tough on you—it’s also really hard on your lawn. Keeping your lawn healthy and happy during the stressful summer season requires a little effort. As a homeowner, you need to be proactive and prepared to combat the diverse forces challenging your lawn during the warmest time of the year. Not all of the action steps are exactly as you might expect.
Watering your lawn during the summer:
Proper watering is essential. Without water, all organic material eventually dies. Keeping a maintained and regulated watering schedule will help your lawn get through the tough summer heat. Be sure to water early in the morning to avoid any unnecessary evaporation. Most lawns need about one inch of irrigation per week—either from natural rainfall or from an irrigation system. Watering your lawn in the early morning decreases the dew period. As a result, this also decreases the amount of time the grass blades are wet, which is a helpful disease management practice. It is better to water for longer periods of time and less frequently during the summer. Depending on water pressure and the spacing of your sprinkler heads, irrigating 20-25 minutes is usually sufficient per area. If you aren’t sure how to measure one inch of water, consider conducting an easy irrigation audit.
It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s absolutely possible to overwater your lawn, even when temperatures are approaching the 90’s and above. If the soil in your yard remains constantly wet, the grass roots are unable to take in a sufficient amount of oxygen leaving them weakened to disease. Also, keep nighttime watering to a minimum as bugs of all sorts consider a damp environment a welcome mat. For more information, read our Lawn Irrigation Guide.
When it comes to watering newly installed sod during the summer, be sure to keep your lawn moist, but do not overwater it—if you do this, it will be susceptible to disease. Water it in the early mornings, midday and early afternoon to help make sure it does not dry out. Taper back watering in the shadier spots since these areas are more prone to fungus and disease pressure.
Mowing your lawn during the summer:
A proper mowing height is equally crucial. Be sure to cut your lawn at the higher end of the recommended height for your grass. Taller grass allows for roots to grow deeper, resulting in a more drought-hardy lawn. Here is a good guide to adhere to:
- most cool season grasses prefer being cut at 2.5–3.5 inches in general,
- most warm season grasses prefer to be kept between 2–3 inches in general. Certain zoysia and bermuda grass varieties perform better at heights between 0.5–2 inches.
For specific grass mowing heights, read our Lawn Mowing Guide or visit the various Homeowner Maintenance Guides organized by each growing season on our Care page. If you want to reduce the amount of time spent outside mowing your lawn as much as possible, check out our blog on Strategies for Reduced Mowing Inputs During the Summer. Lastly, it’s important that your mower blade stays sharp. A dull blade that is tearing the grass will the leave the grass susceptible to disease.
Fertilizing your lawn during the summer:
Be sure to give your lawn the nutrients it needs to combat the summer heat and stressors. Any fertilizer that contains a heavy amount of immediately available nitrogen is not what you or your lawn aer looking for as temperatures soar. Excess amounts of nitrogen that are delivered all at once promote fresh growth, which will not be strong enough to withstand the stressful heat. Overfeeding your grass means extra energy will be required for it to flourish, further stressing your lawn. That’s a task your lawn doesn’t need or want at this time.
Additionally, the wrong fertilizer in combination with excess sun exposure can easily cause scorched spots in your yard. Instead, consider applying Lawnifi® Recover, a liquid fertilizer specifically designed to give lawns the nutrients they need to survive and flourish during the summer. Two bottles of Recover are included in the Lawnifi Summer Fertilizer Box along with a single bottle of Maintain to provide the optimal balance of nutrients as temperatures start to rise.
In addition to nitrogen, Lawnifi Recover also delivers micronutrients including soluble manganese, iron, sulfur and carbon, which help your lawn get through the dog days of summer. Its patented Catalyst TechnologyTM maximizes plant uptake and nutrient availability to help improve soil structure and enhance the growth of microbial populations needed to withstand summer stressors.
Lastly, for those who prefer traditional granular fertilizer formulations, Lawnifi offers a new granular fertilizer, Lawnifi Foundation. Lawnifi Foundation is a slow-release granular fertilizer option that comes in a 25 pound bag and feeds for three months. With a 29-0-5 NPK formulation, Lawnifi Foundation is the perfect granular fertilizer for lawns and gardens. The two percent iron included in Lawnifi Foundation’s mixture helps plants carry oxygen throughout the leaves, roots and other parts of the plants to promote a green, healthy lawn. Featuring slow-release nitrogen, Foundation gradually feeds your lawn over an extended period of time without overwhelming your lawn with nitrogen during the summer. Both Lawnifi Foundation and the Summer Fertilizer Box cover 5,000 sq. ft. For more information on Lawnifi, read Why Use Lawnifi Fertilizer?
Applying topsoil during the summer:
Using a layer of topsoil or organic material, such as compost, in areas of your yard that receive a lot of sunlight during the summer helps to maintain soil moisture. You can apply such organic material either just on hot spots or, if feasible, on your entire lawn. To learn more about identifying and managing hot spots, read Eliminating Unattractive Hot Spots in Your Lawn.
A layer of topsoil acts to slow evaporation, which promotes more moisture in your soil and keeps the grass hydrated longer. The applied organic material will eventually work its way into your soil profile and amend/improve the quality of your soil. Be sure not to apply heavy layers of top dressing as this may smother the grass. Compost is typically black in color, so it may contribute to heating if a heavy layer is left on top of the grass canopy. Learn more in How to Top Dress Your Lawn with Compost. Once you’ve applied a layer of topsoil, be sure to lightly rake it in to spread and smooth it out.
Pictured above from left to right: Topsoil applied to a home lawn on May 16th and images depicting what the lawn looks like later on May 29th and June 10th as the grass eventually grows over it.
The above images demonstrate an EMPIRE® Zoysia lawn with a light layer of topsoil applied to maintain soil moisture. The lawn was mowed at a height of two inches on May 16th, followed by an application of topsoil (photo left). The second photo illustrates what the lawn looks like two weeks later on May 29th. The EMPIRE was allowed to grow out and was mowed again on the “mulch” setting of the mower at 2.5 inches in height. The last image was taken on June 10th. The EMPIRE has received minimal irrigation and is now mowed weekly at 2.5 inches in height on the same “mulch” setting.
Tip: Apply the first bottle of fertilizer in the Lawnifi Summer Fertilizer Box: Maintain. This helps to soak the topsoil and nutrients into your lawn.
Healthier lawns are also best prepared to fight off unwanted pests as well as disease. Following these helpful tips on watering, mowing, fertilization and topsoil applications should give your lawn the best chance to not merely survive, but thrive during the challenging summer months. For more information, read Summer Lawn Maintenance Tips.