How to keep grass green in the heat

Updated Jul 24, 2018

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After an extended spring season that featured long periods of rainy weather, the summer is continuing the “all or nothing” trend. It has been hot and dry, and green lawns are starting to turn brown under the stress.

Here are a few suggestions on how to help keep lawns looking their best:

Getting water on a lawn nourishes and cools the grass. It’s the first line of defense against hot, dry spells. The best time to water is early in the morning from 3 to 8 a.m.

This allows the soil to soak up water needed, and excess water will evaporate when the sun comes up. When a saturated lawn remains in contact with excess water, it creates a breeding ground for disease. This is why watering in the evening can do more harm than good.

Finally, watering during the hottest part of the day is bad news. Water is evaporating and a lawn won’t appreciate the tease.

Tip: Avoid watering by hand. Use sprinklers to evenly water and connect timers for consistency. There are smartphone apps that can operate irrigation controls. Generally speaking, most lawns want between 1-2 inches of water per week. This can vary based on soil and grass types, location and time of growing season.

Let it grow
Set the mower deck at 3 inches or greater. Taller grass can absorb water better and creates its own shade too. Cutting too short not only stresses the plant, it prevents it from growing deep roots that could further protect from dry conditions.

Tip: Get a mulching blade and don’t bag the clippings. A mulching blade cuts the grass a few times before dropping it back into the lawn. The dry, starved lawn will appreciate the mulched clippings for food and shade.

Keep fertilizer in the bag
Unless you have an irrigation plan in place, don’t fertilize the lawn when the hot, dry conditions take hold.

Fertilizers provide nutrients for growth, but without water, you’re asking the lawn to do the impossible. Plus, fertilizers need to be watered in to be effective. If the product sits on the lawn for days only to be washed away in a thunderstorm or downpour, you might consider yourself lucky.

The alternative would be fertilizer washed into lower areas that would be super concentrated, which kills the grass in a hurry.

Tip: Use the money you saved on fertilizer and apply it somewhere else in your business.

With lawn care, you can’t beat the heat.

Mother Nature always has the upper hand. If drought and heat threaten a lawn each year, you might consider a new yard design. Planting trees can provide shade and planting a drought-tolerant type of grass or even reducing the lawn size are all long-term solutions to consider. is a retailer of parts and equipment for the landscape industry.

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