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Decking and stone driveway border a green lawn.
Learn how to care for grass during spells of extreme heat.

Beat the heat

Extreme heat and drought conditions can be tough on lawns. However, with the right preparation and some summer lawn care know-how, you can tackle the challenges head-on and maintain a lush, green yard throughout the hotter months. We’re sharing expert tips on when to mow, feed and water your grass during hot weather to keep your turf in tip-top shape.

Safety tip: Always wear the appropriate safety equipment (safety glasses, gloves, and a mask, for example) and always follow the instructions for the product or equipment. Always wear gloves and a mask when handling potting mix, mulch and compost, and store products out of the reach of children and pets.

Water smart

The best defence against the heat is to encourage your lawn to grow a deep root system, advises Steve Jackson, Munns lawn expert. “Infrequent deep watering is better than regular shallow watering. The drying between the watering trains the lawn’s roots to grow deeper into the soil profile [in search for moisture].” 

This adaptive response strengthens the root system and enhances the lawn’s resilience against drought conditions.

Steve recommends watering early in the morning or late afternoon to reduce water loss to evaporation. “A long irrigation – around 15 to 20 minutes – is best, but this can vary depending on your irrigation technique,” he says. In humid areas, avoid late afternoon or early evening watering as this can encourage fungal problems.

Over time, soil can become water repellent (hydrophobic), but don’t worry – there are solutions available. To ensure water is properly absorbed into the soil, apply a wetting agent evenly over the area. They are available in granules, liquid concentrates or hose-on bottles. Apply them at the beginning of each season, or earlier if water repellence is observed.

Tip: Check out our guide to installing a D.I.Y. irrigation system in your garden.

Person waters garden with setting sun in background.

Mow and feed mindfully

During summer, it’s best to mow grass in the morning or early evening, and only remove one-third of the leaf blade at any one time. While it’s tempting to mow low, this can cause unnecessary stress to the lawn, causing it to yellow and brown. Longer grass also helps to shade the soil and minimise water evaporation.

Feed with a complete lawn fertiliser at the beginning of summer, when day temperatures are milder. Apply in the morning or early evening and always water in well.

Prepare for extreme heat

When high temperatures are expected, water the lawn early in the morning, giving it a good deep soak. If hot weather is forecast for several days, you may need to repeat this process a few times during the week. 

Tip: Installing an irrigation system will greatly benefit the lawn through dry periods. Connect it to an automatic timer to help automate the process as part of your summer lawn care.

In addition, avoid mowing or feeding the lawn when days are expected to exceed 30˚C, as this can cause additional stress on the grass, resulting in browning and yellowing of the leaves. Refrain from using the lawn during this time as foot traffic adds more stress and can make recovery difficult.

Close up of automatic sprinkler system watering the grass.

Look out for signs your lawn is under heat stress

“Leaf blades folding in, wilting and discolouration are all signs of heat stress,” advises Ash Makin, Bunnings national garden care buyer. “If you step on the grass and the blades don’t bounce back, this is also a sign of heat stress.”

If you see any of these signs, it’s time for a deep drink. If you haven’t done so already, apply a soil wetter to ensure water absorption and water in thoroughly.

Lawn with patches of dry and dead grass.

Plant heat-tolerant lawns

Warm-season grasses like couch, kikuyu, buffalo and zoysia are more tolerant of heat than cool-season grasses like rye, Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue. These turf types will struggle in the heat and require more water to reduce the impact of heat stress. 

During extended dry spells, warm-season grasses enter a dormant state, turning brown and pausing growth to conserve moisture. The dormancy period can last three to four weeks, after which the grasses will recover once favourable conditions return.

Learn how to care for your lawn year-round.

Check out our seasonal guide to lawn care.

 

Photo Credit: Cath Muscat, Getty Images

Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.