19 Best Practices For Your Summer Lawn



19 Best Practices For Your Summer Lawn

Brought to you by South Shore Realtor Alice Pierce

Here in Hingham MA the skies have been dry for a bit longer than our lawns appreciate. The hot sun and lack of rain water, along with routine town water restrictions can cause lawns to become dry and stressed. Areas fully exposed to the summer sun without shade are the most vulnerable to stress caused by lack of watering.

Don’t lose hope because there are many things you can do that will protect your lawn during times of reduced watering, be it from Mother Nature or water company restrictions. While we wait for the summer’s long term forecast for above average rainfall to come to fruition, read on to find out what you can do in the meantime.

In many South Shore towns, outside water use is restricted and the lush green lawn might not be faring well enough to retain its lushness. We are fortunate in that most towns south of Boston have restrictions on water use, rather than outright bans. For example, the towns of Hingham, Hull and North Cohasset have limits set by the Aquarion Water Co. and they apply only to irrigation systems and hose-end sprinklers. There are no limits on hand-held watering, car washing or pool filling. A more detailed list of south shore towns and water restrictions is summarized at the end of this article.

1) Mowing Height and Frequency
Mow your lawn at a setting of 2 1/2 to 3 inches high. This will encourage a base of deeper roots where there is generally more moisture for plants to draw from. Having a higher blade also helps the grass store water and boosts the cycle of photosynthesis. Consider that the taller grass can also shade your soil, making water evaporation less of an issue.

2) Sharpen Lawn Mower Blades Regularly
Make sure your lawn mower blades are sharp because dulled mower blades will shred the tips of grass and cause your lawn to look brown.

3) Less Frequent Watering
Another way to encourage deep roots is to water less frequently. Rather than running the sprinklers or irrigation on a daily basis, give your lawn a deeper watering every few days. When you irrigate deeply you are encouraging deep rooting by forcing the roots to search for water. Lightly watered turf creates shallow rooted plants which need water all the time and are ill prepared for dry spells.

4) Aerate or De-Thatch
If you have not aerated or de-thatched your lawn recently, now is the time to do this, but wait until your lawn has recovered from this current dry spell. If you have a thick mass of plant material and roots, water has a more difficult time penetrating through to the roots. Aeration pokes holes in your lawn surface, while de-thatching thins the thick base of root.

5) Water at Certain Times of the Day
Midday watering is considered to be inefficient because of the high levels of evaporation. Additionally, water magnifies the sun and can actually burn areas of turf. Evening watering is also not an ideal time because water left to sit encourages the growth of fungus and mushrooms. Water very early in the morning when there is less wind, temperatures are cooler and and the rays of the sun are not a factor. Start anytime after 3:00 AM and finish by 8:00 AM.

6) Grass Seed Type
Consider the type of grass you have. There are numerous species that are adapted to weather and light conditions. Grass species that tolerate less water can withstand stretches of time without any watering. Selective breeding and hybridization has creates some new and improved cultivated varieties. Drought tolerant species include the fescues, Buffalograss, fine fescues and improved bluegrass. Think of lawns needing one inch of water per week, delivered in two separate waterings. Drought tolerant grasses require from 3/4″ – 1/4″ of water per week if your soil conditions are healthy.

7) Install an Irrigation System
Some may see an irrigation system as a luxury, but conventional sprinklers can be very wasteful when left unattended or used to water hard to reach areas. An automatic irrigation system can maximize watering efficiency with the use of spray patterns and timers.

8) Irrigation System Repairs
Malfunctioning sprinkler heads in your irrigations can decrease the amount of water that is dispersed. If you notice any broken or bent heads or clogged nozzles repair them before watering. Also take a look at your spray patterns to make sure that you aren’t watering your driveway, the neighbor’s lawn or the pavement.

9) Trim Grass Around Sprinkler Heads
Trim the grass adjacent to the sprinkler heads to ensure the spray from each head is not blocked. This will give the water a clear path away from the head and you will have less pooling of water.

10) Cycle and Soak Method
Some people swear by the cycle and soak method of watering. If you have spray head sprinklers, water in three cycles, 3-6 minutes per cycle, and if you have rotor heads, water in three 10-12 minute cycles. The trick is to space apart the cycles about one hour so the water soaks into the ground fully.

11) Hand Watering First Aid
If you have areas that look like straw, try hand watering rather than turning the whole system on. Keep the hose close to the ground and make sure the water is soaking into the dry areas rather than running off. If it is not being absorbed, you can poke small holes with a pitchfork. Be sure to make a straight approach with the pitchfork so as not to accidentally churn up any roots, or damage the root system.

12) Your Lawn and a Compass
Consider the compass directions when it comes to lawn watering. A lawn on the north or east side of your home will need up to 50% less water than the lawns on the sunnier side of your house.

13) Skip the Fertilizer
Don’t fertilize. Actively growing plants use more water, and fertilizers can damage already stressed root systems.

14) Leave the Lawn Clippings
During a dry spell, leave the lawn clippings on your lawn instead of bagging them. The small amount of nitrogen provided by the clippings will be returned to the soil and ultimately strengthen the roots.

15) Vitalize Your Soil
The management of soil is key for a healthy lawn, and only a healthy lawn can adequately rebound from hot, dry conditions in the summer. With a properly balanced soil you are allowing for maximum growth within the lawn’s root system. When times are tough for a blade of grass, energy is drawn from the roots. If the Ph is out of whack within the soil, then the lawn will show it. Remedies and maintenance treatments like topdressing, aerating, de-thatching, composting, and liming will provide ideal turf growing conditions. The degree of compacted soil, and its overall composition determines the ability to retain water and transfer nutrients.

16) Consider the Weight
Dry-stressed lawn is more prone to damage by weight. If you keep hammock stands, lawn furniture or equipment on your grass, try to move it to the side areas just off the lawn until the plants have recovered. Foot traffic will also damage the lawn more easily.

17) Use a Professional Service
Some local lawn management companies offer year round programs specifically for water saving. One such program is called Aqua-Saver and is offered by Lawn Management on the South Shore. This is a wetting agent that conditions the soil to hold more water, therefore requiring up to 30-40% less water.

18) Know the Signs
When a lawn needs water, the color turns to a slightly blue or grayish tone. And when you walk on the lawn, the blades of grass don’t pop back up.

19) No Wet Mowing
Don’t mow your lawn when your soil is wet. What happens is that the soil becomes compacted and this decreases the absorption of water.

There is no need to scapegoat lawn care as a draw on the valuable resource of water. With some thought, a properly managed lawn, made up of the appropriate grass species and balanced soil, can use very little to no supplemental water.

While the final outcome is a refreshing, green lawn, it is what is underneath that counts the most. Ideal soil conditions create the insurance that your grass will be able to withstand extended periods without water.

And please remember that even if your lawn has “browned out,” chances are it has gone dormant to save itself. Dormant grass is not dead and it will come back when it rains.

South Shore Towns Water Restrictions


No irrigation systems, lawn sprinklers, soaker hoses or unattended devices is allowed. Garden plants, shrubs, and vegetable gardens may be watered by hand held hose only during the hours of 5 a.m. through 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. through 8 p.m. Use of a hand watering pot is permitted anytime. Hingham For irrigation systems and hose-end sprinklers. Hand-held watering is permitted any time. Odd number street addresses can water on Tuesdays and Saturdays, even number addresses can water on Wednesdays and Sundays, both before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m.


For irrigation systems and hose-end sprinklers. Hand-held watering is permitted any time. Odd number street addresses can water on Tuesdays and Saturdays, even number addresses can water on Wednesdays and Sundays, both before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m.

North Cohasset

For irrigation systems and hose-end sprinklers. Hand-held watering is permitted any time. Odd number street addresses can water on Tuesdays and Saturdays, even number addresses can water on Wednesdays and Sundays, both before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m.


Outdoor watering before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. Irrigation systems can be used one day a week, with the day varying according to the town precinct.


Sprinklers prohibited. Handheld hoses only. Odd numbered homes on odd days and even numbered homes on even days between the hours of 6-9 a.m. and 6-9 p.m.


Limited hours for hand-held watering with hoses, odd-even watering days. Outdoor watering before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m.




Enjoy all the positives of the coastal towns located on the South Shore of Boston. Feel free to contact Coldwell Banker Realtor Alice Pierce through her website, email or telephone 781-724-7622.

Coldwell Banker Hingham


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