How to Cut Grass in a Summer Heat Wave

By Brian Mounts | Mar 25, 2020
How to Cut Grass in a Heat Wave

During summer, our lawns are most stressed due to heat, drought, and dry weather. Many times, you might begin noticing that your lawn has begun having brown patches here and there, and in a bid to restore our lawns to health, we go ahead with what we’ve always carried out as our maintenance routine– we mow.

Mowing, of course, should be a routine if a lush and healthy lawn is what you’re vying for. But during summer, you might need to adapt this process a little to suit the seasonal requirement of your turfgrass.

Mowing could be the make or break deal for you in this fast-approaching summer season. So here’s what you need to know before the heat wave meets your lawn.

What You Need To Know About Mowing In a Heat Wave

Throughout the year, most lawn owners are found repeating the same process but modifying their approach. This is because your grasses, like every other living thing, go through various and varying changes. These are some modifications you might want to implement as summer approaches.

#1. Don’t Cut the Grasses Too Low

One prevalent mistake lawn owners and commercial landscape maintenance professionals make cutting the lawn too low.

Short lawns impair growth by reducing the energy available to the plants. When cut at a proper height, however, they develop a stronger and denser root system. Stronger roots promote vigorous growth and also equips the plants with the stamina required to tolerate stress.

However, be reminded that your turf type determines a lot when handling lawn maintenance issues. Warm-season grasses, for example, can be cut lower than cold season grasses without being overly affected.

As such, the maintenance technique applied to your turf will always vary depending on its type. Before mowing this summer, do a little research on what mowing height works best for your lawn.

#2. Have You Heard Of the 1/3 Rule

As you try to cut your lawn this summer, also remember the ⅓ rule or one-third rule if you like. This rule posits that you should never remove at once anything more than ⅓ of the height of your grass.

Sticking to this rule will allow your lawn to remain cooler because a lesser amount of plant tissue is removed. Invariably reducing the strain on the lawn and increasing its chances of doing really well.

#3. Don’t Mow When In Drought

Summer drought is already enough stress for your lawn. You definitely don’t want to make that worse.

Mowing your lawn during a drought might badly damage it beyond repair. When in drought, it’s somewhat better to mow your lawn after irrigating or after a rainfall.

Also, resist the temptation to save time by going ahead to mow the grasses while they are still wet. This could lead to clogging and clumping of your mower deck.

#4. Sharpen Your Mower Blades

When your mower blades are blunt, there’s a high tendency that rather than smoothly cutting the grasses, you’ll be roughly tearing at them. Mowing with blunt blades tears the plant tissue instead of cutting it. This can be really strenuous and detrimental to your turf.

A torn turf takes on a scraggly and discolored appearance, and they become less resistant to the activities of insect pests.

On the other hand, using a sharp blade could save you all the stress in the world. I mean, you get the job done faster, with less stress to you and your grass. In fact, cutting your lawn with sharper blades helps the turfgrass to heal quickly.

Caring For Your Lawn during a Heat Wave

1. Water Wisely

For lawn owners, this is one of the most emphasized subjects. During summer, there’s usually the temptation to water the lawn excessively so as to prevent the negative effects of evaporation or loss of moisture.

But it’s always better to have a dry lawn over a soggy one any time, any day. When the soil is soggy, it can lead to the rise of insect pests as well as diseases such as root rot. Soggy soil filled with water also deprives the turf roots from accessing oxygen, which is needed for necessary plant activities.

Try not to overwater your lawn even if it seems like the summer sun is working overtime. In fact, after rainfall, there might be little or need to water the lawn again.

As a rule of thumb, it’s best to water deeply and less frequently. What this means is, you only water when the grass grows dry. Remember, I said dry and parched. If you can water an inch deep every week, then you’re good to go.

Also, as regards the best period of time to water, most experts will tell you to do so early in the morning. At this time, the sun is not yet out, and so your lawn will have enough time to absorb more water before the sun dries it out.

Some people also say you can water late at night, but one downside that comes with doing this is the fact that since the water wouldn’t dry up early enough, the water left standing on the blades could give rise to the breeding of molds and fungus.

Also, watch out for “hot spots.” Hot spots are those areas that are prone to drying out. Water those areas more often than you would the other parts.

#2. Stay Away From Fertilizers

Try not to apply fertilizers during a heat wave. Doing this might actually burn your lawn. Also, since fertilizers boost growth, plants are induced into action when they are applied. Inducing your lawn to grow during summer can create unnecessary stress for the already taxed turfgrass.

Using synthetic fertilizers on your lawn during summer is a no-no. Warm-season grasses might actually survive, but cold season grasses have no business being around synthetic fertilizers during summer.

This is because, during a heat wave, turf grasses, especially cold season turfs, consume more energy than they actually produce. This can actually be a stressful process.

If you must fertilize, go for organic and natural options. Examples include recycling your grass clippings. Grass clippings, when left to remain on the lawn decompose and serves as an alternative source of nourishment for the lawn.

You could also go for organic fertilizers. Organic fertilizers include manure, compost, fish meal, etc. They are usually safer and pose no risk of burning when they are applied.

The same applies to other lawn maintenance practices that impose damage to a temporary nature. Such practices include dethatching of the lawn, aeration, and the likes. All these activities are best carried out during the spring when the lawn is still vigorously growing.

#3. Cut down On Traffic

Excess traffic on an already stressed lawn can do serious damage to it. The blades become beaten down, which further prevents them from springing again. To limit foot traffic caused by people walking on the lawn, you can consider laying stepping stones around it.

#4. Control Summer Pests

Insect pests and diseases are more prevalent during the summer months. To limit the presence of fungus and pests on your lawn this summer, try applying fungicide when the summer sun has gone down. Also, avoid watering at night, as night watering could breed fungi and molds.

#5. Seek Expert Advice

We like to think our lawn maintenance is a DIY project. Yeah, it can actually be one. But at times, it’s best to leave it to the professionals. Calling a pro lawn care company every once in a while, isn’t so much of a bad idea, especially if it seems like you keep battling with the same issues over and over.

To Conclude

The truth is, lawn care is never a one time-big results affair. A healthy lawn comes as a result of consistent lawn care practices over time. Your lawn will be better equipped to tolerate a heat wave if it’s already in a healthy state. Cutting or mowing should be carried out based on prescribed requirements. If you can mow rightly, then even the summer sun won’t be able to stop your lawn’s shine.