How to keep your lawn in shape this summer

Ahh, the British summer – that most unpredictable of nature’s gifts. T-shirt tans, knotted hankies, and beautiful, seemingly endless days of scorching heat; followed by monsoon-like downpours that flood our lawns and ruin summer get-togethers.

It’s true to say that your lawn sees a lot of weather during a typical British summer, so how DO you keep it looking green and luscious throughout this most tricksy of seasons?

Grass grows faster in the summer and needs some special attention. So, in this article, we’re going to explore how to keep your lawn in perfect shape with expert summer tips that result in fantastic results every time.

Ready? Let’s get to it.

Summertime watering – what time is best?

Probably the most significant challenge during hot spells is the lack of rain. When your lawn needs water, it lets you know by turning an unattractive shade of yellowish-brown. Grass needs around 2.5cm of water each week during the summer so, if the skies aren’t providing, we need to get the hosepipe out and give the lawn a good drenching.

The best time of the day to water is the morning; well before the sun hits its hottest around 3 pm. This gives any water laying on the leaves time to evaporate to prevent scorching and plenty of time for the surface water to penetrate down into the roots.

Avoid watering in the evening because your lawn is likely to remain wet overnight, promoting fungi and disease.

Summertime watering – how often?

A sprinkler spraying water over a lawn

Never overwater your lawn because it makes the roots lazy and the plant less drought-resistant.

Decent intervals between watering forces the grass’s roots to burrow deeper into the soil to seek out water – this is good for the plant’s longevity.

Deeper roots strengthen the plant and will help keep the grass green even during periods of minor drought.

Water twice a week to a total of 2.5cm, including rainfall. We realise it’s difficult to know how much water that actually is in real terms – I mean, do you stand there with the hosepipe for ten minutes or an hour?

How to calculate 2.5cm of water

The easiest way to gauge the amount of water you need is to use a sprinkler. Leave a rain gauge (or a cup will do) on the lawn while you sprinkle and measure how long it takes to fill the gauge to a depth of 2.5cm. For the most accurate reading, use three cups placed at varying distances from the sprinkler, and measure the average.

If it takes half an hour to reach 2.5cm of water, then run your sprinkler twice a week for fifteen minutes each time.

What about totally scorchio days?

After sweltering days – where the mercury hits the 30s – provide a light sprinkling in the late afternoon (once the sun has started dropping) to help cool the lawn down. (but only if the grass is looking a little limp and tired).

Remember:

Watering a little every day makes your lawn’s roots lazy. Leave intervals between watering to encourage root depth and drought-resistance.

Mow the grass regularly but not too short!

Lawn mower and tools

Regular mowing is the key to a beautiful lawn because it forces the plant to produce more blades of grass from each crown (aka “tiller”). Mowing at least once each week in the summer ensures a thicker lawn as it grows back.

However:

Mowing Tip #1:

NEVER mow more than ⅓ of the leaf – this causes the plant to lose essential moisture and stored sugars. Cutting your grass too short results in yellow/brown patches and a generally unattractive lawn.

Most grasses don’t tolerate being cut too short. If you want that quintessential manicured lawn, like a golf putting green or the immaculate grounds of Downtown Abbey, you’ll need to choose the right type of grass seed, such as MOOWY’s Premium Lawn grass seed.

Mowing Tip #2:

Make sure your lawnmower blades are sharp.

Blunt blades tear the leaf, leaving a large wound on the grass blade. And hot weather causes that wound to dehydrate the grass blade quickly.

Keep your cutting blades sharp!

Mowing Tip #3:

Never mow during the hottest part of the day (3-4 pm). Mow in the morning or late afternoon.

Mowing Tip #4:

This isn’t really a mowing tip, but it is a tip on maintaining the moisture in your soil:

Keep your grass longer; that means leaving the cutting blade higher during the summer.

Longer grass:

  1. Slows the evaporation of soil moisture
  2. Keeps the earth cooler
  3. Absorbs more morning dew

Fertilising grass in the summer

Your summer lawn probably sees the most action: garden parties, sunbathing, ball games, mowing, heat, drought. In short, a summer lawn needs resilience.

All plants need feeding for optimal growth, appearance, and longevity, and your lawn is no different. Use a summer fertiliser, such as MOOWY’s Easy Mow fertiliser, to give your grass the nourishment it needs to see the summer through.

Our Easy Mow fertiliser contains 60% organic and slow-acting nitrogen, which helps maintain a deep, rich green colour while boosting the grass plant’s natural ability to photosynthesise for food.

But:

Be careful to avoid over-fertilising your grass because it stresses the lawn. Always read the instructions on the packet.

A few summertime fertiliser tips:

  • Never spread the fertiliser when it is warmer than 25 degrees – this can cause scorching.
  • Fertilise in the evening on warm days, but never during a heatwave.
  • Use a slow-release, slow-acting fertiliser, preventing leaf scorch. Slow-release fertilisers mean that you only need to fertilise every 4-6 weeks.
  • Mow the lawn before you fertilise so that the feed reaches the base of the plant more easily
  • Fertilise only when the lawn is dry. Otherwise, the fertiliser will stick to the leaf, causing it to burn.
  • Water your lawn immediately after fertilising
  • Respect the recommended amount to use. More fertiliser is not a greener lawn!
  • Fertilising only works on actively growing grass. If the grass is dormant (due to drought stress, for example), it won’t absorb the nutrients.

Strimming and trimming lawn edges

Person using a lawn edging tool

It’s all very well having a beautiful lush lawn (and if you follow our tips, that’s precisely what you’ll have!), but most grass varieties are creeping plants that spread quickly.

If you’re not careful, your grass will spread into your flower beds, so cut the edges with a strimmer or edging tool. Not only does it prevent spread, but it makes the edges look much neater – win-win.

Trim the edges of your lawn every eight weeks for best results.

Remove weeds

If you take good care of your lawn, you’re less likely to see weeds growing within the texture of the grass. A healthy, well-fertilised, regularly mown lawn doesn’t give weeds a chance.

However, some weeds do creep in every now and then. If you’ve let the lawn go a bit, then you’ll probably need to scarify.

But, if you have just a few weeds, you can remove them by digging them out of the earth with a knife. Make sure you remove the whole root system; otherwise, they’ll just return.

Fill in the holes in your lawn with a little compost or garden soil, and cover with MOOWY Quick Repair grass seed.

Keep the new seed moist, and after a week, fresh grass will appear.

Explore Our Help & Advice Page

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our expert tips; use them to keep your lawn in shape during the summer.

We have plenty more tips and information about achieving and maintaining the perfect lawn on our Help & Advice page.

Thanks for reading.

Is Your Grass Type Right for your Garden?

If you want the perfect lawn, you need to choose the grass type for your garden. But all grass looks the same, right?

Wrong.

This article will help you identify the predominant grass species you have in your existing lawn. And we’ll explore which species is more likely to thrive in your garden based on climate and soil type.

So, get comfy. We’re about to learn all about grass species.

Identifying your hardiness zone

Now, we’re suddenly going all American for a moment, because we don’t tend to consider the UK to have different climate zones like they do in the US. In the United States, they have three principal climate zones for grass (or Plant Hardiness Zones):

Warm Season grasses grow better in the south
Cool Season grasses grow better in the north
And across the middle of the mainland, there’s the Transition Zone (where you choose between Warm and Cool grasses depending on your proximity).

The US is MUCH bigger geographically than the UK, of course, and we don’t really have the same degree of climate variation across our island. However, the north of the UK is noticeably cooler than the south (in both temperature and edginess!).

For the most part, our climate is most similar to the US Cool Season grass zone.

USDA Plant Hardiness

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) define the Warm/Transition/Cool zones and, although this is a North American standard, it has been largely adopted worldwide to help gardeners understand the land they cultivate.

The hardiness zones are defined by the ten-year average in weather conditions, so – in a country as meteorologically diverse as the UK, there’s a little more to it than a horizontal slice between the north and south.

What are the USDA Zones in the UK?

Depending on which source you use, the UK’s hardiness zones are defined as between 6 and 9, although The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) defines the entire UK as Zone 7.

However, we must remember that we’re an island – and coastal weather is different from inland.

Map of the UK's USDA hardiness zones

Here, you’ll see the weather climate zones, from 7 to 9 (with a few 10s on the coast of the Republic of Ireland). Our climate is defined by cool (but not fierce) winters and warm (but bearable) summers, with a frost-free season between early spring and late autumn.

Essentially, the lower the zone number, the lower the average temperature. These zones are used to identify how well any plant will withstand the colder temperatures during the winter.

So, take note of your zone as you read on. (If this all sounds a bit over-complicated, don’t worry: MOOWY offer seed mixes that proliferate throughout the UK, regardless of the zone. More about that later).

OK, all the geeky weather stuff out of the way; onto your existing lawn!

What type of grass do I have in my garden?

Most of us inherit a lawn. That’s not to say it gets left in someone’s will, of course – we just mean that you inherit a lawn when you move into a property. So, most of us don’t have a great deal of control over the TYPE of grass we currently have.

But this article is all about finding the correct type of grass for your garden, so if you’re dissatisfied with the quality of your grass, there’s a high chance that’s it’s not thriving because it doesn’t suit the conditions.

A rule of thumb for the best quality lawn: seed mixes are best because they have the most significant level of resistance and robustness.

Perennial Ryegrass

Most lawns in the UK are mainly perennial ryegrass, a hard-wearing species that can tolerate warm sun and minor drought conditions. It germinates quickly and handles the frosty snap of British winters.

However:

Ryegrass alone might become clumpy and patchy if you don’t look after it. And – after a while – these lawns begin to thin out and develop bald spots.

The principal features of perennial ryegrass are:

  • Perfect for cool-season regions – that’s mild winters (as in the UK) and warmish Summers.
  • Fast germination (so good for overseeding)
  • Withstands minor shady spots
  • Minimal maintenance (other than fertilising)
  • Tolerant to heavy use

Perennial ryegrass has poor disease resistance and is a slow spreader. Once damaged, it’s reluctant to bounce back, so a seed mix (like one of MOOWY’s mixes) will help to boost your lawn’s resistance.

What does it look like?

Perennial ryegrass, long and unmown

Perennial ryegrass thrives in USDA zones 2 to 8 and has medium- to dark leaves, with a fine-leafed texture. It grows densely and tends to maintain its good looks after heavy use.

To maintain the health of perennial ryegrass, it’s important to fertilise your soil regularly.

Red Fescue

Red fescue thrives in USDA zones 8-10, so it works well in warmer parts of the UK. With a deep root system, red fescue is particularly resistant to heavy use and drought conditions (once established).

Red fescue struggles with intense heat, but – unfortunately – we don’t get a lot of that in the UK. It goes brown and dormant in high temperatures or heavy humidity, but it will rebound once the conditions are more suitable.

Red fescue grows quickly and spreads well, and is remarkably tolerant of sandy soil.

The principal features of red fescue are:

  • Very deep roots, making it resistant to drought
  • Particularly pest-resistant
  • Copes well in moderate heat – perfect for warmer parts of the UK, particularly zones 8 onward

What does red fescue look like?

Red fescue with a single red poppy

Red fescue is characterised by its very fine blades and a deep, attractive emerald green colour. This species spreads quickly via rhizomes (underground stems) which helps the grass recover from damage.

Red fescue can be cut shorter than perennial ryegrass, so it is particularly recommended for ornamental lawns but is commonly found on golf courses and recreation fields.

Kentucky Bluegrass

Much like red fescue is not red, Kentucky Bluegrass is not blue. And despite its name, Kentucky Bluegrass is native to Europe and North Africa.

So, that’s confusing, isn’t it?

Kentucky Bluegrass (KBG) has what is described as a broad, “boat-shaped” leaf and has a rich, deep, dark green colour. It’s tolerant of heavy use and goes dormant during periods of drought. It turns dry and brown in the summer unless you water it.

This is your cooler climate grass type and does well in USDA zone 7, so it grows most vigorously during the spring and autumn. Because it favours moderate heat and can withstand British winters, KBG is particularly recommended for northerly UK climes.

Kentucky Bluegrass needs quite a high level of maintenance to keeps its healthy look.

What does it look like?

The leaf is described as “boat-shaped” – however, think canoe rather than cross-channel ferry. It just means that the species is broad-leafed.

Kentucky Bluegrass is winter-hardy, but it’s not a fan of drought, so it will require watering during the summer to maintain its beautiful dark green colour.

So, what type of grass should I choose?

The Weather

Think about your weather first. Perhaps what characterises the British climate more than anything is its unpredictability.

But:

We could consider some cliches as rules of thumb:

  • The warmest part of the country is the South Coast.
  • The wettest part of the country is NOT Manchester, contrary to popular belief. Swansea and Plymouth are the wettest cities in the UK; Manchester is the 17th!
  • Coastal towns are windier than inland towns and cities.

Check your weather conditions here.

Your soil type

Soil types are different all around the country. In fact, soil conditions can change from street to street.

When you consider your soil, think about its density. Heavy clay holds onto water and doesn’t drain quickly. Sandy soils dry out very easily (regardless of the amount of local rain you experience).

Choose a grass type that tolerates drought well if you have sandy soil. If you have a heavy clay soil, think about giving it a hand with drainage. Find out how here.

Consider a grass seed mix

Ultimately, like a pedigree dog, mixing species offers greater resistance to disease (and drought). But never allow a dog to experience drought!

Seed mixes offer the best of all worlds, but getting the mix right for yourself can be tricky.

Luckily, you don’t really need to worry because you can get premium seed mixes from MOOWY. We’ve expertly blended grass species that accommodate the entire UK climate.

Power Lawn

MOOWY’s Power Lawn mix has a high percentage of perennial ryegrass (80%), mixed with red fescue to improve resistance. This seed mix is suitable for all UK climate zones and produces a Premier-League quality turf.

As the name suggests, Power Lawn grass seed proliferates and keeps going regardless of the pounding you might give it throughout the year. The 20% mix of red fescue provides hardiness to heavy use.

Premium Lawn

Our Premium Lawn grass seed is a high percentage mix of red fescue (75%), which tolerates shorter mowing. So, if it’s that classic, manicured look you’re hoping for, Premium Lawn is your mix of choice. The other 25% is a mix of perennial ryegrass and Kentucky Bluegrass, making this mix hardy and perfect for all UK climates and soil types.

Remember, red fescue does best in moderate heat, so if you’re in the hottest parts of the UK, it might get scorched. However, the mix with perennial ryegrass and KBG gives it more resistance, and it should cope in even the warmest regions.

Quick Repair

As the name suggests, MOOWY’s Quick Repair grass seed is especially recommended for overseeding and replenishing the bald spots that appear in high-percentage perennial ryegrass.

With an 80% mix of perennial ryegrass, Quick Repair germinates and establishes quickly. But it’s the 20% mix of red fescue that offers greater structure, density, and resistance to drought and disease.

Designed for overseeding, this seed mix does well in all UK climate zones. It’s also recommended for starting new lawns from scratch.

Shade & Sun

One of the big problems with many British gardens is the lack of sun we experience – or (perhaps, more precisely) the inconsistency of sunlight.

Even if your lawn is south-facing and open, sunshine often struggles to penetrate rain clouds, even during the summer.

So, Shade & Sun grass seed has been developed to thrive in both full sun and shaded areas.

The high percentage of red fescue gives this seed mix its shade tolerance, while the perennial ryegrass (40%) offers speedy growth and Kentucky Bluegrass (10%) provides structure and strength.

Again, this seed mix is perfect for all UK zones but does particularly well in cooler, northern climes.

Sport & Fun

Our Sport & Fun grass seed is a mix of perennial ryegrass (60%), red fescue (35%), and Kentucky Bluegrass (5%).

This is our most robust seed mix, offering the best all-round results regardless of soil type, climate, and region.

If your lawn experiences high levels of use, then consider Sport & Fun the perfectly balanced mix of grasses to maintain beauty, colour, and texture, regardless of the service it provides.

All Grasses Require Feeding

If you want a beautiful lawn, it doesn’t matter what type of seed you choose unless you commit to a regular feeding routine.

Check out our Ultimate Guide to sowing grass seed for the best results.

Keep a lookout for our expert’s guide to fertilising your lawn. Coming soon!

Get in touch

Hopefully, you feel better informed about your grass type, but if you have more questions, we’d be very happy to help.

If you have any questions, email us at hello@moowy.co.uk. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

Thanks for reading.

Well mown Kentucky Bluegrass lawn
Kentucky Bluegrass – Photo by Joshua Boman on Shutterstock