How to Keep a Lawn Green in Summer Heat?

During the summer months, it can get increasingly hard to keep our lawn healthy and our grass green. Inevitably brown spots can appear, and our grass blades may begin to visibly weaken. Before long, our green lawn can turn into a brown lawn. 

Even in hot conditions during the summer months, I have been able to keep my grass green. The main thing is to give your lawn at least an inch of water and adjust your watering schedule to reflect the reduced rainfall. If watering more or deeply for healthy root systems and deep roots doesn’t fix the problem, then you may need to investigate further. Below are some reasons a lawn’s color may fade and how to keep it green during the summer heat. 

Why is My Lawn Color Fading?

The number one reason a green lawn may begin to turn brown in hot weather is that it is planted with cool-season grasses. A cool, hardy type of grass like perennial rye or fescue will naturally go dormant in the heat of summer. This dormancy often manifests as brown grass, but it is not dead grass. When cooler temperatures return in the fall, then this grass type will bounce back and turn into the greenest lawn.  

If your lush lawn isn’t supposed to go dormant in the summer, then another aspect to look at is a possible nutrient deficiency. Slow-release fertilizer as part of a full-season lawn care program should be applied in late spring to give your grass a boost in summer. A heat-stressed lawn should not be fertilized as it will scorch the grass even more and can possibly lead to dead grass. 

The water per week a lawn needs changes throughout the year. With a proper watering schedule, your lawn will receive deep infrequent watering to build strong roots and promote deeper roots. But shallow watering can have the opposite effect instead of deep, strong roots, you will end up with weak, surface-heavy roots that cannot search out water and will dry up in the intense sun. Give your lawn several inches of water no more than once a week to build better root structures. 

Even with regular watering, a lawn may start to brown due to heat stress. Even warm-season turfs can succumb to extreme temperatures. This issue can be made worse by dull mower blades or heavy foot traffic. According to lawn care experts, once the temperatures lower, the grass should green back after a thorough watering and a cut. 

Brown Lawn Drought

If your lawn goes too many times without water, it may start to brown and look sickly. Make sure the soil doesn’t become too parched during drought, and supplement with plenty of irrigation during the hottest summer days. Even if the grass browns many times, it will come back after getting a good soil soaking.  

In hot weather, a sprinkler or hose that is exposed to direct sunlight could end up with hot water inside. Watering grass with this heated water could result in burnt turf and even more brown spots. If the water in your hose is hot, let it run away from plants until it cools down, and then you can use it for normal irrigation. 

When getting your lawn ready for summer, I find it best to let the grass grow a little longer. Grass that has been cut short will offer less protection for the soil and roots from the blazing summer sun. Slow summer growth can result during high heat and drought periods, and it is often necessary to reduce mowing from twice a week to once a week during this time. This gives the grass more time to heal between cuts. 

As the summer months wear on, weak turf may become susceptible to active insect pests, weeds, and turf diseases. Using a weed killer, even one designed for broadleaf weeds during heat and drought stress, can kill an already struggling lawn. You will need to look at the appearance of your turf to determine if it is showing signs of pest or fungal disease.  

How to Get a Green Summer Lawn?

Long-term lawn care strategies can help you keep your lawn green all year round. It may not be possible for the first few years, but over time you will see what your turf needs and how to adapt it to the changing seasons. Over time by working these techniques into your yearly lawn routine, you will start to have an attractive lawn with fewer products and build better soil for plant and lawn health. 

One proven method of getting a greener summer lawn is to mix your turf when you sow the seeds. Adding grasses that use similar water and fertilizer requirements but that can handle different temperature, and climate conditions improve the odds that most of your yard will always look green. The perfect time to sow new turf types is when you are repairing damage from a harsh summer. 

Making a few adjustments to how short you cut the grass and the time of day you water can help your lawn thrive in summer. A good rule of thumb is to raise your mower an inch and water deeply once a week. This combination will help develop the greenest lawn with deep healthy roots all throughout the soil. 

While some grass clippings laying on the soil can create a mulch that traps moisture and protects the grass’s roots, too much yard debris can lead to a build-up of thatch which can harm your turf. Dethatching and aeration can help water and fertilizer reach the deep root zones and give your grass food and water all summer long. Dethatching in spring is best to give you lawn time to heal and fill your lawn with nutrients for the summer heat. 

Many fertilizer products are made for summer treatments. These water-soluble solutions can be given to lawns actively growing in the summer to help them grow faster than weeds and other competition. Once the fertilizer is added, plenty of water should be given to improve lawn health and get a heat-stressed lawn green again fast.

When water is scarce and the temperatures are high, it can pay off to not use the lawn as much. Any traffic causes damage to the blades of grass that make up our turf, and during the summer, it can be hard for them to recover without extra water. When a lawn is drought or heat-stressed, avoid walking on it to give it a better chance of withstanding the extreme conditions. 

Summer Maintenance Tips

Water Hose in The Lawn

These maintenance tips can help you keep your grass green even when the temperatures soar.  Working as a lawn care professional with several lawn care companies has given me insight into what practices pay off in the summer and what isn’t worth the effort. Most of the emergency calls I received were due to someone’s lawn turning brown when it should be green, and these tips have served me well. 

Mow HighRaise your mower cutting height when the temperatures start to climbGass has more time to grow between cuts and can build a deeper root structure 
Prevent Run OffMove sprinklers to make sure no water is flowing off the lawn onto walkways or roadsMakes sure that all the water that is being sprayed is going to the lawn and not running off the property. 
Deep, Infrequent WateringAdjust the watering schedule to once a week for one or more inches of waterPrevents surface level roots and allows a bigger broader support network to keep grass alive during temperature extremes
Don’t Water in RainAdjust sprinklers to not turn on during rainy weather to prevent runoff and over wateringHelps you save water and keep track of how much is going into your lawn while reducing puddles and soggy lawn conditions
Water in the Early MorningTurn on the water in the morning before the sun is high in the sky to prevent evaporationGrass receives more of the water in the morning, and the soil has a chance to dry before dark which prevents fungal diseases
Repair Turf DamageAdd water, nutrients, and new seeds to areas of damaged turf Helps turf heal faster and prevents bare-earth turf problems
Fertilizer and Weed ControlAdd a slow-release fertilizer in the spring to make sure it is ready for the lawn to use in summer, and manually pull weeds whenever they appear Fertilizer gives the lawn the nutrients it needs to grow and repair during heat and drought conditions, whereas pulling up weeds will prevent invasive e species from taking root and destroying your lawn 
Maintain MowerMake sure your mower blade is sharp, and everything is running well to ensure a clean cut and better shaping of your lawnA mower blade that is sharp will make clean cuts, but a dull blade will damage the grass tips and make healing and regrowing more difficult
Don’t Mow MiddayMow in the morning or in the late afternoon to help the grass recover from the cuts before heat and droughtWhen grass is cut, it needs to heal, and direct sunlight can dry out the blade; letting the turf heal by cutting in the early morning or late afternoon is ideal 
Add Organic Materials Compost and other organic materials can be scattered to help lawns deal with hot temperaturesOrganic materials in the soil can help protect from the direct heat of the sun and add moisture retention capabilities to help your soil cope with hot summer temperatures

What Are Some Summer Lawn Hazards?

Knowing how to get your lawn green in the summer and keep it that way is much easier when you know some tips and tricks. But just because you can make a lawn greener doesn’t mean there aren’t any perils for your turf in the summer. If you attempt to take care of your lawn but make too many mistakes, it could result in some costly damages that need a lot of time and effort to repair.

Avoid these problems by being aware of these summer lawn hazards. 

Fast Evaporation 

In the summer, water doesn’t seem to go nearly as far. No matter how much or how often you water your lawn, it always seems like your grass is just getting thirstier and thirstier. This is mostly because of rapid evaporation from the increased soil temperatures and blazing summer sun. As the temperatures increase, the amount of time water stays on the ground decreases.

Water doesn’t always go directly into the ground and may sit on top for a few hours. If the sun is out and hot, then the water will evaporate, and you will lose some of your water to the atmosphere instead of it going to your lawn. Keep your watering system near your grass and try to activate it only in the mornings to reduce excessive evaporation.

Water Restrictions

In some areas, lawn care may need to be limited due to city ordinances and water restrictions. If your plan to keep a beautiful lawn requires a lot of summer watering, you will want to check that you are allowed to water in the summer. If there are restrictions, you will need to work that into your lawn treatments. 

To avoid water restrictions killing your lawn, try to make sure you have turf that is drought and heat tolerant and will not need much water to stay green. Otherwise, you may end up with a dead lawn that is uglier than one that just goes dormant in the summer. Choose your turf wisely if there are water limitations where you live. 

Invasive Grasses

During the summer, some types of grasses and weeds can proliferate like crazy. If you are not careful, they can steal your turf’s water and resources, making your lawn even weaker during the summer. These grasses and weeds need to be manually removed, or else you could end up with a clover lawn.

Using herbicides during the summer heat is a bad idea as there is a good chance it could kill or weaken an already struggling lawn. In the summer, heat watering and then pulling weeds can make it easy for you to remove them. Make sure to prevent these weeds from growing with pre-emergent herbicides in the spring so you will have less trouble keeping your lawn green in the summer heat.