Texas Living

How to Protect Your Grass from the Intense Texas Summer Sun

By Peter Simek 8.5.22

The intense summer heat takes a toll on Texas lawns. As temperatures rise, the lawns we put so much time, attention, and care into begin to turn from fresh green to a tired brown.

Every summer, homeowners around the state attempt to fight the annual browning, often by increasing irrigation. But as Texas struggles with ongoing droughts, and water conservation becomes increasingly important, dosing our lawns with gallons of water each summer is not the best strategy for keeping our yards green. But there are other ways to stave off the summer browns. Here are some tips for protecting grass this summer:

1. Choose the Right Grass

The easiest way to protect your grass from turning brown is to start with lawn varietals that like the heat. Unfortunately, many yards are planted with non-native grass species such as Bermuda and St. Augustine. Despite the aesthetic appeal of these grasses, they don’t do well in the heat and are water intensive. Yards that use native grasses will find that the varietals are adaptive to the Texas heat and hold up better during the summer months. You’ll also appreciate how great native Texas grasses look when they are thriving in their natural environment. Some great options include:

  • Buffalo grass: Very drought tolerant, this variety does well in the heat as well as Texas’ occasional freezes.
  • Habiturf: A new species developed by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center, this grass is a blend of buffalo, blue grama, and curly mesquite and thrives in the summer.
  • Zoysia: Though not as drought resistant as the other varietals on the list, this species holds up better than Bermuda and St. Augustine.
protect your grass

2. Water Wisely

Even the most drought-tolerant grass varietals do need the occasional drink, and during Texas’ long summer, there often isn’t enough natural rainfall to go around. When you water your summer lawn, follow a few simple guidelines to ensure that you maximize your water use.

  • Water in the morning: This will ensure that you don’t lose water to evaporation as the day heats up.
  • Don’t overwater: Most Texas lawns will do well with a half-inch to an inch of water once a week — and some varietals can go longer.
  • Don’t underwater: Even though it is very important to conserve water in the summer, not watering your lawn deeply enough when you do irrigate can under-nourish your grass leading you to have to water more frequently than necessary.
  • Listen to your lawn: Don’t water on a set schedule. Instead, keep an eye on your lawn and watch for signs of draught-related stress. Grass that looks dull and has a bluish tint, or which rolls or falls over, needs a drink.
  • Follow your local restrictions: Many Texas towns are now imposing watering guidelines to help conserve community water supplies. Be a good neighbor and follow these rules.

3. Give the Mower a Rest

Another way to help your lawn survive the heat is to let it grow out a little longer than usual. Raise and sharpen your mower blade in the summer. Allowing grass to grow taller will facilitate deeper root growth, and these longer roots will be able to access water and nutrients that are stored in the deeper, cooler soil. Longer grasses also help keep the sun off the soil, limiting evaporation. Don’t be afraid to let your grass grow upward of four inches in the summer.

protect your grass

4. Shade and Mulch

The name of the game in the summer is keeping your lawn cool and trapping water. Two ways to do this is to introduce other vegetation, such as tall shrubs and trees, that can provide summer shade for your lawn. Also, when you mow, don’t rake the grass clippings. Allowing mulch to remain on your lawn will provide shade and help limit evaporation.

5. Keep Off the Grass

Summers are stressful times for lawns, so try to limit any further damage. Try to keep from walking on your grass as much as possible. Drought-stressed grass tends to fall over and become weak in the stems. Walking on grass can rupture strands and dislodge root bases that are clinging to dry soil. And when you do mow, freshly sharpened blades will limit tearing of the grass strands that can further stress a lawn.

protect your grass

6. Restoring a Damaged Lawn

Inevitably, the Texas sun can get the better of even the healthiest lawn. If you are experiencing damaged or dead patches of lawn, there are steps you can take to revive your grass.

  • Add seed: If there are dead patches, treat the soil with organic fertilizer and add seed. It will take some time for seed to root, but by fall your lawn should be back thriving.
  • Target Water: If there are particular areas of your lawn that are very brown or show signs of drought, offer these areas extra water. The key, however, is not to inundate the spot with fresh water. Instead, slow-drip irrigate the patch so the water can seep deep into the soil and refresh the roots from the bottom up.

Read more about watering wisely here.

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