Not only people and animals suffer from heat and drought, they can also become a real challenge for the lawn. The high temperatures beyond 30 °C quickly cause bare and brown spots to appear on the green area. For many amateur gardeners, the question then arises whether and how to mow under these conditions. The right approach can help keep the grasses healthy and give them an attractive appearance.
Mowing in heat and drought
A lush green lawn is the pride of many amateur gardeners and requires a lot of work and effort. In order for it to remain so beautiful in the long term, it is not only a question of high-quality seed, but above all of the right care. This begins with the first growth spurt in spring. Problems usually arise in the summer, especially when temperatures are constantly high, during periods of drought, and perhaps even when the lawn is used intensively. All of this can take a toll on a lawn, making it look barren and parched. Bare and brown patches are an indication that grasses have already burned or dried up. In order not to damage the lawn even more, you should now pay special attention to a few things when cutting.
How often to mow the lawn?
For a healthy lawn, dry periods are usually not a problem, unlike weakened grasses, which are much more susceptible. This makes proper care all the more important. In addition to fertilizing and regular watering, lawn cutting should not be neglected. Only in this way can the little plants better withstand prolonged periods of hot and dry weather. Also in summer, regular cutting ensures optimal growth of the grasses and thus promotes their density. At the same time, turf from low-quality seed generally grows somewhat faster than that from a high-quality seed.
At the beginning of summer, lawn mowing can be done every four to seven days. If it is warm and humid in the summer, the grass will grow relatively quickly and you will need to mow more frequently accordingly. If it is very warm and dry, it grows much slower. Therefore, you should increase the intervals between mowing. If it is very hot, it is recommended to completely avoid cutting the grass. However, you don’t have to give up cutting in principle even under these conditions, as long as you reschedule the work for certain times of the day and adjust the cutting height to the temperatures accordingly.
The right time
With normal temperatures and not too intense sunlight, you can generally mow the lawn at any time of day. The right time plays an important role especially under extreme conditions such as persistently hot temperatures and lack of rainfall. Especially in the midday hours the sunlight is most intense, which already means stress for the grasses. If the lawn is mowed at this time, the stress factor is increased even further.
- Soil dries out faster at temperatures above 30 °C
- Freshly cut grasses can burn on the surface and interfaces
- To keep stress as low as possible, mow at the right time
- Ideally in the cooler evening hours
- If necessary, late afternoon hours are also possible
- Grasses can recover well overnight
- In normal weather conditions, mowing in the morning is no problem.
- Not recommended in hot and dry weather
- Sun would burn the whole day on the fresh cut surfaces of the stalks
- Morning dew could increase damaging effect even more
When considering the best time of day to cut a lawn, you should also take into account the rules and regulations of the respective city council or municipality regarding quiet hours in residential areas as well as on working days and Sundays and holidays. Otherwise, you could face severe fines.
Tip: By the way, you should also refrain from cutting the lawn when it is wet, after a thunderstorm or a rain shower. The wet blades would be very uneven to cut and, moreover, could clog the lawn mower.
Do not cut too short
In addition to the time of day, the correct cutting height of the grasses is also important in hot and dry weather. This should be adapted to the temperatures, i.e. they should never be cut too short.
- Temperatures up to 26 °C promote the growth of grasses.
- If they rise further, the growth slows down more and more
- At temperatures above 30 °C grasses reduce their growth to a minimum
- If they stay a little longer, they can shade the ground better
- The soil does not dry out as quickly
- Roots of the culms are not damaged as quickly
- More leaf mass is needed to compensate for the slowed metabolism
- The deeper the stems are cut, the better the soil condition should be.
- This affects the supply of nutrients and the soil life
- When cutting, always use the so-called ‘one-third rule’ as a starting point
- Then never cut the grasses more than one third of their current height of emergence
- Optimal cutting height under normal conditions is four centimeters
- Under extreme conditions in midsummer, do not rely exclusively on this rule
- It is better to leave grasses half to one centimeter longer
If you radically cut the grasses down to four centimeters now, despite the hot spell, the worst that can happen is that the grasses are irreparably burned. Even intensive watering cannot repair the damage, at most it can mitigate it somewhat. A gentle cut with a cutting height of five centimeters in combination with sufficient watering is recommended. In the case of shade lawns, it is generally advisable not to cut them shorter than six to eight centimeters, even in summer.
Summer is the vacation season. This means that the green area may not be mowed for a longer period during this time. To bring the grasses back to their original height then, it makes sense not to radically shorten them all at once. It is better to bring them back to the normal cutting height gradually or in several stages, taking into account the ‘one-third rule’.
To leave clippings or not?
Lawn clippings contain many nutrients and trace elements. With conventional lawn mowing, it usually disappears in the mower’s catcher bag and is then disposed of. Important nutrients are lost in this way. Meanwhile, mulching the lawn with special mulch mowers is becoming increasingly popular. The lawn clippings are chopped into small pieces in the mower and spread directly back onto the lawn.
This provides the grasses with all the important nutrients, which may make additional fertilizing unnecessary. In addition to an optimal supply of nutrients, the soil life is vitalized, aeration, structure and even the humus balance of the soil is improved and the soil is prevented from drying out too quickly. In addition, the grass clippings serve as a natural weed inhibitor.
Tip: The clippings from conventional mowers are usually too long and too coarse and should not be left on the lawn. If it is left lying around, an impenetrable lawn felt forms over time, which in turn is an ideal breeding ground for numerous pathogens.
Sharp blades protect the grasses
Sharp blades are a prerequisite for a clean cut, an even cut pattern and healthy blades of grass. Blunt or semi-blunt knives can often only grip a portion of the grasses, or they merely tear them off instead of cutting them. This results in the tips of the grasses being frayed, stubby and unhealthy looking. In most cases, you will then have to mow several times to achieve the desired stalk length.
To protect the blades, you should remove small twigs, stones but also leaves before mowing and do not mow when it is wet. In addition, it is advisable to always use the full cutting width of the mower. During the mowing process, the mower should always extend one wheel width into the already mowed area. In this way, you can achieve a streak-free lawn without visible transitions.