We had a beautiful spring. There were cooler temps, mild winds, the occasional shower and not many rains that turned into full blown "gully washers." Now, it seems like summer is coming in hot and things are already starting to get crispy. A few times now, even I have found myself thinking, "is it too hot to be mowing?"
While some folks have in-ground sprinklers or irrigation systems that can mitigate dry spells, there's not much that can be done to manage the heat. Several years back, we had a really dry spell and heat that was prolonged. It was so dry in fact the many folks began noticing foundation issues. Cracks became more prevalent in basement walls as extreme settling issues and separations occurred in the soil around foundations. This truly was an odd season, but we are currently trending in a similar fashion.
So, what's best for your lawn or landscape during a dry spell or temperatures above normal? It depends. What's best for you will generally be a function of what you value and what your budget is. If the grass is slowing down, there really isn't much benefit to weekly mowing. We recommend pushing the frequency in which the lawn is mowed further out , maybe every 10 to 14 days... sometimes longer. We also recommend raising the blades on a mower so that the lawn is cut at a higher level. These two things keep the ground shaded and healthier over all. Scalping a lawn by mowing too short will only increase the weed activity found on a lawn and hurt the good turf grass.
Grass that is not mowed will likely have some tall, leggy growth and look less clean. But it will likely be a little more healthy. However, if appearances are the end goal, then water like crazy!!! Water slow and long and let the water soak deeply into the soil. This will drive the roots deeper and help your lawn become more resilient and drought resistant long term. Watering short, but frequently will generally cause water to stay higher or more near the surface and ultimately be more prone to evaporating. This also makes your lawn lazy as your grass never develops a deep root system. As a result, less impact will be had, but your watering bill will still be high.
So, if you choose to water, water deeply. If you have to choose between plants and lawn, it's probably more economical to focus on keeping plantings healthy. If you can space out mowing and raise the mower up a notch or two, do it. When it comes to mowing in the heat, it really is one of those times that less is more.