Tips For Caring For Your Lawn in EXTREME SUMMER HEAT!!

No one likes the outdoors when temperatures are over 90 degrees here in the states. Well, no one in their right mind in my opinion. 🙂 For me personally, once the temperature gauge tips over 90 then I get a bit grumpier, especially when it comes to doing my yard work.

Typically, I’ll wait until after 5 pm to do most of the work to avoid the direct sunlight. Now when it comes to your grass, that can get stressed as well, so here are my best tips to give your lawn what it needs during extreme heat.

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1) Mow Lawns A Bit Higher Than Normal

Mow lawns higher

During normal cutting patterns, I always tick my reel mower up one notch when I cut my Bermuda lawns. This will give the grass a bit more height to give more shade to the soil and help to prevent it from drying out. Refer to this maintenance schedule if you have a Bermudagrass lawn.

Since grass is a living organism it requires energy in order to grow. When cut, the grass’s ability to create energy becomes severely decreased. After all, the bigger the plant, the deeper the roots and the deeper the roots, the more moisture the plant can draw from the soil.

On top of that, longer grass offers better shade for your soil, in turn preventing the moisture inside it from evaporating due to extreme heat.

Also see: Ideal Height For Cutting Bermuda Grass

The ideal summer height for most types of lawn grass is around 2.5 inches. However, I recommend you keep it a bit longer than that during scorching hot weather – around 3.5 inches. Yes, your grass won’t look its best but you’ll avoid completely killing your lawn. Plus, you can always mow it back to your preferred height once summer passes and the weather becomes a bit cooler.

Pol Bishop
Gardening and Landscaping Expert | Fantastic Gardeners

I have seen people cutting their grass too short. I would not recommend this in any weather conditions because it is not healthy for the grass. Relatively longer grass leaves provide the necessary support for the roots to grow stronger. Roots then offer strength and support to the stem as well, which leads to a healthier plant. Also, cutting the leaves too short exposes the soil to direct sunlight which may overdry it, which is not suitable for the health and growth of the plant. So, I suggest you not cut your grass too short to keep it healthy and green in summer and extreme heat. An appropriate height is necessary for an overall healthy plant. 

Jill Sandy, Gardener & Founder at

2) Have Sharp Blades

have sharp lawnmower blades

A sharp lawnmower blade is always recommended but extremely crucial when the heat is pounding your lawn. Getting clean cuts on your grass blade will help prevent any type of lawn disease from creeping into your grass.

A dull blade will cause the grass to split, fray, and tear which is putting unnecessary stress on your grass. Learn more about dull mower blade grass injury.

3) The 1/3rd Rule Is A Must

Don't cut more than 1/3 of the blade

Be extremely vigilant about not cutting more than 1/3rd of the blade height during extreme heat. Cutting more off will put more stress on the grass and will lead to disease and less greening.

We want to pamper our lawns during this time so that they don’t feel overworked so they can start greening up once the temps drop a bit. Here’s a detailed list of common lawn diseases.

4) Early Morning or Evening Mowing Times

mow early in the morning

Mowing when it’s cooler out is a given for the majority of us. Mowing early is not only for golf course maintenance crews. Who wants to sweat it out in the middle of scorching heat? But there are also benefits to your lawn by not mowing in the middle of the day.

Mowing between 9am-11am and 5pm-7pm are the ideal times for mowing your grass. By mowing at these times your turf is at its strongest during the summer days, meaning that it can take the clipping and keep on ticking, so to speak. By hacking in the heat you are putting too much stress on the grass which could eventually lead to grass disease and other issues.

5) Mulch The Clippings (Going Bagless)

mulch the clippings

During the summer it’s recommended to mulch your clippings and let the thatch build up a bit. This will help keep moisture in the soil which will help establish strong root growth. Use a mulching mower and a mulching blade to get the clippings as fine as possible.

You don’t want to over mulch where you have clumps of grass all over your yard which will lead to other issues such as brown spots. Plus it’s just unsightly. Keep an eye on the thatch buildup from week to week. If you start to see that you are getting over 1/2″ of buildup then I would recommend bagging the cut this time. Too much thatch will give you headaches in the spring. In that scenario, use a power rake to help get rid of the excess thatch.

6) Fertilize (or not)

fertilize in summer

Depending on the grass type you have you can either fertilize (as long as you put down enough water) or simply avoid fertilizing for now. For my Bermuda lawn fertilizer, I will typically still fertilize with a 16-4-8 fertilizer like the PGF Complete, which I am really getting impressed with. For fescue lawns, it is best to avoid fertilization as it will make your lawn use up too much energy which it needs to store to get through the stressful period.

Apply Organic Matter

Temperatures above 85 degrees cause some serious stress for lawn plants. In temperatures above 95 degrees grass goes into conditions called heat stress and starts to die. Water use is also significantly increased during these temperatures. Another very important thing to remember is to never water your lawn while the sun is still out. The sun causes water to quickly evaporate off the top of the grass and is wasted. If you have a watering system set up with individual sprinkler heads have them turn on before the sun comes up.

During extreme heat, your lawn will start to turn brown. This will signal it is in a heat stress condition and the turf is losing the ability to continue growth. Watering your lawn in these conditions will only add to the stress the plant is already going through.

To prevent this from occurring apply a quality pre-emergent organic fertilizer 6-8 weeks before the start of extreme heat. The organic products available today will quickly start to feed the turf and feed the root system with nutrients and organic matter that stores water. Most products available will provide nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium along with other nutrients, these nutrients are key to cool weather growth. When water is applied to these nutrients and organic matter you are able to grow a healthy and green lawn even in the hotter climate zones.

Ed Wike – From:

7) Don’t Overwater

don't overwater in the summer

Most think that you need to put down more water than normal during extreme summer heat but this may not be the case for you. Most locations will get regular thunderstorms or rain during the week which typically put down a good soaking to the root layer of your lawn. A good way of seeing how much rain your yard gets is by using an at-home weather station.

If that happens then you most likely won’t need to run a sprinkler system for a few days. But keep an eye out to see if your lawn turns really crispy and brown.

Installing a sprinkler system with a water gauge is ideal for proper watering amounts and will take the guesswork out of how much watering you need to do. This of course should alarm you to put down some water. But if your yard stays green then you are good in the watering situation.

What are the experts saying?

Water Early in the A.M.

The best tip for those looking to safeguard their lawn, where your grass may be affected by dry, hot weather is to water before the sun comes up. Water sitting on the grass when the sun is out will contribute to burning. When you water before the sun is up, you allow the grass a good feed before the sun has any chance to do any real damage. The water will also assist in regulating the temperature of the earth below your grass.

Jessica Woods-  Editor & Founder at Chickens+YouWebsite –

The most important step is to water your lawn well. Watering has to be done early in the morning before the heat starts to set in. In addition, you can briefly mist the lawn every day, and avoid watering the lawn every day. To get the best results, water your lawn with one-inch height water, every week. This can be split into two rounds of half an inch each. Watering the lawn twice a week is the best, and avoid watering every day, as that could lead to disease outbreaks.

Gian Moore Editor at Mellowpine

Yes, this sounds odd since you want to keep your lawn lush and green despite the heat. But, it’s essential. A lot of people continue to water their lawns after they have had rainfall. Generally speaking, grass does better when your soil is on the dry side over being damp or saturated. Having consistently wet soil will deprive your grass’s roots of oxygen, and this makes it more susceptible to diseases.

Jen Stark is the founder of Happy DIY Home

Avoid watering your lawn every day. Follow the rule of thumb that your lawn only needs 1″ of water a week, and this includes rainfall. So, instead of watering every day, switch to watering infrequently but deeply. The goal is to wet the grass’s entire root zone in one session. The infrequent part means you only water when your grass dries out.

Ideally, you’ll water your lawn early in the morning hours to allow it to get the full benefit before the sun comes along and dries it out by the middle of the day. Don’t water in the evening as it leaves the water standing all night long. The sun can’t dry the grass out at night, and this leaves it vulnerable to fungus and mold growth.

8) Let It Burn & Die?

burn the lawn in summer

“The best way to care for a turfgrass lawn in extreme heat may be to let it die – so you can plant a native grass adapted to thrive in your local climate without excessive watering, fertilizers, or pesticides. For those that want a turf like aesthetic in Southern California, Carex pansa is a great option for areas that experience extreme heat.”

Cassy Aoyagi, a board member of the U.S. Green Building Council’s thought-leading LA Chapter (USGBC-LA) and the president of FormLA Landscaping

This choice, along with the sustainable maintenance strategies it supports, can protect caretakers’ health from the myriad of toxic chemicals involved in typical turf care practices. Also, in just 10 years’ time, property owners can save care costs approaching that of an in-state UCLA education for every 1000 square feet of turfgrass replaced.

9) Stay Hydrated

stay hydrated

Regardless of when you mow the lawn during the day the main thing is to stay hydrated. Be sure to drink a good 16oz of water before starting and roughly 16oz each hour you are outside.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your self and your lawn safe during extreme heat is important and these tips should keep you cool and your lawn stress free during these months. If you have any tips of your own, please share them in the comments below.

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