How to maintain your lawn during the summer

Cutting, watering and mulching tips to keep grass green in the heat.

Alina Bradford CNET Contributor
Alina Bradford has been writing how-tos, tech articles and more for almost two decades. She currently writes for CNET's Smart Home Section, MTVNews' tech section and for Live Science's reference section. Follow her on Twitter.
Alina Bradford
3 min read
Man mowing lawn

The health of your lawn is determined by your watering and mowing techniques. Too much water, for example, can make the grass yellow, and mowing too low can turn your lawn brown.

Though are many different types of grass, they all have similar lawn care guidelines during the summer. Here's what you need to know to keep your lawn green, even if your thumb isn't.

Watch this: How to Prep Your Lawn Mower for the Season

Make your own mulch

When mowing your lawn, it's important that the grass clippings don't end up in clumps that can smother the lawn. If you want to make the most of your clippers, look into getting a mulching lawn mower. These mowers cut up the blades of grass into tiny bits that blend in with the lawn and become a healthy mulch for your yard. Mulch traps moisture in the soil and keeps the grass cooler. As it decomposes, it also acts as a natural fertilizer.

If you're not looking for a new mower, you can still make mulch with a regular bagless lawn mower. After you mow, let the clippings dry a little bit, then go over them again with the mower. This will chop the blades of grass into finer clippings for mulch.

Cut carefully

If you're the type that believes a perfect lawn is 1 to 2 inches high, then you'll need to rethink your cutting plans this summer. The ideal height is actually around 4 inches. The longer blade length helps turf retain more water and allows the grass to grow deeper roots.

Also, be sure that your lawnmower blades are sharpened at the beginning of the season. With dull blades, you'll end up with frayed ends of grass that make your lawn unhealthy and can ultimately kill it. 

Not sure they need sharpened? If grass blades have ragged ends after a cut, then the blades are dull. You can get your local mower repair shop to sharpen the blades, or you can do it yourself with these tips.

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Give your lawn time to recover

When you mow matters, too. Cutting in the middle of the day can lead to scorching and brown patches. Wait until the evening so the grass blades have time to recuperate overnight before getting hit with intense heat and sunlight again. 

Water right

Many people overwater, which can lead to ugly yellow grass. In most locations, grass only needs 1 inch of water per week to be healthy, and that includes any rainfall. 

To make sure your grass is getting enough water, do the foot test. Walk across your lawn and look down behind you. If the grass blades don't pop back up after you step on them, then it's time to water. If they spring back into place, then your grass is well watered.

Like when you cut your grass, when you water is important, too. The best time to water is in the evening, when it starts to cool down outside. This will prevent the water from evaporating in the hot sun before the lawn and soil can get a drink. Here are some more watering tips for the perfect lawn.

Want to make watering your lawn easier? Here's CNET's guide to making your own automated lawn watering system.   

Originally published July 10, 2018.
Update, March 20, 2019: Republished for spring 2019.