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Helping your lawn when temps are over 85°

by Allyn Hane 08 Jul 2020

Are you feeling the heat? Is your lawn feeling it?

If you have cool season turf, especially Kentucky Bluegrass, I know that it is! I am talking to you just below the video links.

If you have warm season turf, as long as you are irrigating, I’m sure your Bermuda, St Augustine, centipede, zoysia or bahia are loving this! I am talking to you down below.

Either way, I have tips for both of you this week that include the Best Store Bought Lawn Fertilizer options that you can apply right now to help your lawn.

But before I go into it, just in case you missed it, I did make a podcast for you just prior to the weekend and I talked about some strategies for the heat wave.

I also made a video showing you the Ortho Dial N Spray mods and how to spray with it successfully:


Cool Season Lawns

I know that for a good majority of you, your lawn is struggling. Remember, anything over 85 and your cool season turf, especially KBG, starts to stress. Anything over 90 and it’s going to have real trouble. 90s for 2-3 day stretches and it’s not a good situation for the look of the lawn.

However, it doesn’t mean the lawn is dead or burned. I know your instincts are telling you that something you applied burned it but I assure you, I’ve seen thousands of lawns go through stretches of heat and it’s not “burn.” It’s just dormancy brought on by heat and it’s a defense mechanism.

If this is you, do NOT give up. Instead, water your way through it. These are the times when you really learn your land! It’s going to be a battle and you need to gut it out and coach your lawn through.

Give the lawn a good ½” or even ¾” of water every 2-3 days and cooling sessions in the afternoons if you can. If you have to water at night because your schedule is hectic, then water at night! That’s right - watering at night through this heat wave is better than not watering at all. Get it done.

It appears as if most of you are in for more 90s through the next 2 weeks and won’t see a break until the end of July. Knowing that, there are two categories that you fall into:

  1. Lawn still staying somewhat green, not totally brown like straw

If your lawn is hanging on (like the picture below), staying somewhat green but still struggling, here are some applications that are ok for you to make to aid the turf during this time. The key is though: you MUST keep watering.

Make these applications in cooler temps such as early morning or evening - NOT because they will burn anything - NONE of what I am recommending is going to burn anything - but because I don’t want you walking on the lawn in the middle of a day that is reaching 92 degrees. Minimize all foot traffic during this time and if you are going to mow, do that in the evening as well.

The following will help the soil, and in turn the turf during heat stress:

Sea Kelp and Humic - these are great to help the lawn stay healthy through the heat. Sea kelp helps with rooting and humic adds carbon to the soil. Soil organisms will remain active and they also assist the lawn through stress. RGS from the bio-stimulant pack is a perfect product. Apply at 3oz/1000 every 10-14 days through the heat spell. Water the day before you apply, and water it in with ½” after you apply to get it into the soil. No need to go heavy with RGS - just low doses of 3oz/1000. (see this video for instructions on applying bio-stimulants)

Hydretain - this is another key to success in the heat. It isn’t a replacement for watering, but instead is an aid. I have a video coming up very soon that will show you how to apply the liquid concentrate from the Ortho Dial N Spray as well as show you some “before and after” results from recent applications. Get liquid or granular here.

Summer Stress Fertilizer - we are all sold out of StressX but have another truck on the way. We did release a smaller bag option via Yard Mastery that can help too. These ferts have potassium which aids the lawn in stress times. They are not designed to give the lawn a green pop like CX (CarbonX) or XGN (X-Green) but instead, will help the lawn to not sustain as much damage during the 95 degree days and will also help it in recovery later down the road.

MicroNutrients - when temps level off back around 85 or lower, and you have seen that the lawn is starting to be more vigorous again, micronutrients are important to support it’s recovery as well. Most of you already have a bio-stimulant pack and the MicroGreene in there is perfect. Just stick to low doses at 6oz/1000 every 2 weeks and nurse the lawn back to health. This won’t push growth but will aid in recovery as it also contains 2% potassium.

XSoil - I don’t talk about this product much but I have been using it on my project bermuda lawn and like the results. It is just straight biochar infused with chicken litter. Chicken litter is a natural source of N-P-K and many micronutrients. In XSOIL those nutrients are infused in the biochar so they become slow release. This makes XSOIL an excellent summertime supplement for soil. It’s not designed to give you a color pop so don’t expect that - but it will help improve air and water circulation through the soil which is good for the turf roots. Application rates of 10lbs/1000 are recommended. (I’ll show you some results on Bahia grass below if you want to see)

STORE BOUGHT OPTION Ironite - store bought option (I always try to keep a balance for you) this product has been used with success for many years. It’s essentially just high iron and the newest formula has been polymer coated to make it slow release and also avoid driveway staining. If you feel like your lawn is starting to recover from the heat stress - maybe towards the end of this month, and you want to green it back up slowly and without causing additional growth spurts, this is an excellent choice and you can find it at most bix box stores.

Lawn still green and healthy, handling the stress well
I don’t want to forget you guys with cool season turf who are NOT struggling. There are many of you who have been caring for your lawn for a couple years or more and it has deep, healthy roots that can withstand even the worst heat. Still, the key is water - keep it deep.

All of the options above are of course, excellent for you, too, but you have some additional applications you can make.

Store Bought options - I always try to keep a balance and give you some good store bought options too. Here is a complete post on that.

XGN (X-Green) - this is the perfect summer lawn fertilizer product to spoon feed the lawn if you prefer granular applications. Equal amounts of nitrogen and potassium (8%) are perfect for greening and stress support. The bag rate I chose for this product is 4lbs/1,000 which gives you ⅓ lb/1,000 of each. It also contains 4% iron for an even deeper green color that won’t push continual growth. This is a homogenous product in greens grade prill size so it’s easy to apply and gets into the canopy of the lawn quickly. My friend Connor Ward likes to complain about the iron smell in it but look at his KBG after applying it.

Here is his video from June 19 where he applied it.
Here is his video from June 26 where you can see how green his lawn is!

Pick up a bag of 8-1-8 XGN DIY Homogenous Turf and Ornamental Fertilizer here and give it a shot or two this summer.

18-0-1 Greene Punch - All In One
Now if you want to go with a liquid fertilizer, then this is a great time to give the 18-0-1 Greene Punch a try. The labeled rates are 16oz/1000 which barely even gives you ¼ lbs/N/1000 but this one is also juiced up with Humic and Kelp. It’s also got iron. So you end up getting everything in one app, N, K, Fe, humic, kelp. This is another excellent “spoon feed” product for summer.

I also recommend that even if your lawn is doing well, you use Hydretain. It will help prop things up when they are at their hottest and help you should you have to take a few days off from watering. If your lawn is holding up well and you have watering restrictions, for example, Hydretain can get you through until your day to water comes back around.

If you go with the granular, just know, it smells like success. No joke, it’s STRONG! But it does give you up to 48 hours to get it watered in. If you use the liquid, that must be watered in immediately. Use your Ortho Dial N Spray to apply it and water it in within minutes. (they are currently sold out of the quart hose end sprayers - but if you have one from before you can re-use it with the concentrate)

Warm Season Lawns

We have a completely different scenario with our lawns. They love the heat. In fact, the hotter the better. But we still have to keep them irrigated. Here in Florida, we are usually well into our rainy season where we get a nice downpour every afternoon. In the last 3 weeks that has not been the case and lawns dried up. Then, just in the last 4 days, we have been getting back into our regular rainy pattern again.

Here is my neighbor’s back lawn before we got any rain, showing stress from the dry spell:


And here is that same lawn about 7 days later after we 2 scattered showers:

Can you see it starting to recover, slowly? I show you this to illustrate that if your warm season turf is looking bad, in most cases during summer, all it needs is more water and it will recover very quickly. If you stick with me on my podcast, I will show you this lawn again in another month when we start getting more rain and it will be nice and healthy green.

Here’s the key point for you: warm season turf, bermuda, St Augustine, centipede, zoysia, bahia - it is VERY bad for your lawn to let it go dormant in summer. The cool season folks can do it and everything is fine. This is because their growth cycles (think root production and energy storage) happen in spring and fall. If they stay green in summer that’s just a bonus.

For us, we have to get all the energy from the sun we can in summer and pack on the pounds. Otherwise, our turf types will thin out and give away ground to weeds.

Review this video here on “Grass Types and Growth Habits” to understand more about the importance of getting measured growth all summer while the days are long and the sun is high in the sky. Here is our growth curve as a refresher.

Warm Season Grass Growth Calendar | The Lawn Care Nut

If your lawn is allowed to remain dormant during that summer period because you are not watering it, I promise you that weeds will fill in where your lawn is lacking and that is how warm season turf declines even more quickly.

That said, get your watering in line! Just like our cool season friends, you want to get down ½” every 2-3 days and if that becomes not enough, stick to the frequency but add time. Get down ¾” of water every 2-3 days and hope for some cloud cover and rain to assist you.

Either way, we really need to help our lawns pack on the pounds right now and send out plenty of stolons and rhizomes to get as thick as possible heading through peak party time here in July, August and September. Here are your summer recommendations.

Store Bought Option - for sure you can use Milorganite. It’s slow release, has iron and will give your lawn a nice green color. 12lbs/1,000 sq ft is a good rate. That is pretty high N but since it’s organic, it will be all good and won’t push too much surge growth. If you want to get a pop with some micros, Ironite is also fine for you. It’s polymer coated and will slow release and give you a nice, deep color.

XGN DIY (X-Green) - I think it goes without saying, this is my go-to fert this year. I am in a blackout so I can’t apply right now but you can. It’s greens grade (small prills) so it will get into the canopy quickly even if you have reel-low turf. It’s an equal balance of N and K which is perfect for summer, but also is fortified with iron. It’s got a biochar base (like all Carbon Earth products) and is laced with root promoting peptides. Bag rates are low and made for frequent summer spoon feeding.

Bio-Stimulants - all of the bio-stimulants are great for you during the summer. RGS and Humic12 will continue packing in the carbon and sea kelp and then whenever you want a push of green color, use the MicroGreene at 6oz/1,000. It is also juiced with humic and sea kelp so it’s a complete product all by itself. You do not have to apply all of these at one time - do one each weekend or separate them by 2 weeks if you want. For step-by-step instructions follow along in our free app (android or Apple)

MicroGreene - if you want a super strong pop of green, or you have a “fertilizer blackout” or ban like I do, then you can use the MicroGreen at 12oz/1,000 and maintain a nice deep, blue color. Here in this video I show you how to apply it using a pump sprayer. Easy to do and it can handle the thicker mix no problem. Water it in when done, results in about 6-7 days.

XSOIL - I have been playing with this one and liking what I see. I have not made a lot of content about it yet because I’m wanting to make sure I recommend it in the right situations. I’ve used it in my Bermuda rehab and will make a video about that soon. But just a few weeks ago I put it down at full rate (20lbs/1,000) on a section of Bahia over-bye my church and look at this result:

I applied it right along the shipping container there about a month ago. Now keep in mind, this is neglected bahia grass so the “yellow” areas get no fert love at all. The reason I show this is to illustrate that there is for sure some N-P-K and micronutrient value in the XSOIL.

We sell it as a soil amendment, not a fertilizer. That is because it’s really designed to enrich the soil structure overall. It’s just the straight up biochar infused with chicken poo and the only thing added to it are peptides. It also has to be applied at very heavy rates of 20lbs/1,000 to get this visual response but again, I did it just to illustrate that it does have nutrient value. If you are going to add biochar to your soil, may as well use biochar that can release small amounts of nutrient in the process.

How can you use it? For me, since it’s not an N-P-K fertilizer, I can be using it to improve my soil all summer while I am in blackout. (Manatee County Fertilizer Ban info here). I will probably do an app at my house here sometime in the next few weeks and show it. I will not be applying this heavy though - for me at home, the strategy is one of lighter apps (5-10lbs/1,000) a few times a year as a soil supplement. Similar to how we apply humic acid during the year to supplement the soil as well. If you already use Carbon Earth fertilizers on the regular, XSOIL probably isn’t needed - you are getting biochar with every app already. But if you are using other ferts and want some biochar for your soil, this would work great.

It makes a great complement to any other apps you are doing so if you want to throw this down along with, or in between other applications you are doing, it will only help them.

I hope you have learned something in this email, but most of all, I hope you are making it through this summer so far with a good plan and you are sticking to it.

I’ll see you in the lawn!

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