Putting it mildly, it's been pretty hot lately. The UK's seen some of the highest temperatures it's ever experienced, and we've all felt the drag of an obscenely hot few days. But we aren't the only ones who've suffered - our poor plants and lawns have also felt the burn.

More likely than not, your lawn has been looking a little browny-yellow these past few weeks. But don't worry - grass is a hardy soul, and will bounce back with a bit of water-based TLC.

Undergoing a hosepipe ban? Here are a few tips to see your lawn through the dryest of dry seasons.

Dry Lawn Tips

Save every bit of water you can

a rain barrel/water butt by some flowers at the foot of a drainpipe

If you don't have one already - get a water butt. Reclaiming water is one of the greatest ways to get the most out of brief rain showers. Your lawn will get some of the water when it falls, and then you can water it later with rain gathered from your gutters that would have otherwise been lost to the drains.

You could argue that the water would make its way back to you eventually, but only once the council have charged you for it. Water butts all the way!

Don't water unnecessarily - prioritise

Take care with every drop

It's hard to watch, but sometimes you have to let your lawn go. Lawns serve a minimal purpose for the ecosystem at large, while other plants still provide for pollinators. Prioritise the important plants and look to the lawn last.

If you water it back to life then another hosepipe ban or heatwave hits, all of that water will have been used for nothing.

Don't mow it

Your grass is right now focused on its roots, which is why the top of it is now yellow. Why focus energy on the hair when it's the roots that gather the water?

Leaving the top of the grass to be as long as possible lets the roots stay shaded, and avoid any further sun damage. If you desperately have to mow, such as if you can't see the back fence anymore, set the lawnmower blades to be as high as possible.

Avoid fertilisers and weedkillers

Garden Weeds
You've survived this round, dandelion-things

In the wet season, fertilisers can work as intended - soaking into the soil (and not sitting on your grass/plants) to feed them as the year goes on. Right now, fertilisers will just sit on the top of the ground, increasing the likelihood of lawn burn (where it goes all black and disappointing-looking).

Weedkillers are much the same, and it's just adding chemicals to your lawn when all it needs (or can process) is cool H2O.

How long will it take my lawn to recover?

This depends on how dry your lawn is. If you're reading this when it was written (post the heatwave of 2022), your lawn is probably in the Heavy Drought phase which will take 2-3 weeks to recover once watering resumes.

Light drought - 7-10 days

You can identify light drought if you've got a handful of dry patches and the grass is looking thinner. It should still look green, but more like a children's playing field than a professional football pitch.

This grass is the least distressed, and with a bit of water should look better in a week.

Medium Drought - 7-14 days

If you can remember what your school's field looked like before breaking up for summer, that's what medium drought lawns should look like. More light-brown than green (but still faintly green).

This grass will take around a fortnight to bounce back. It's still using some energy to grow, but it hasn't quite slipped into Heavy Drought yet.

Heavy Drought - 2-3 weeks

It's a sorry sight, but your grass is still clinging on. At this stage it's almost entirely yellow, with a little bit of crispiness underfoot.

As it's been a while since your lawn had water, it'll take a while to soak up enough to recover. Expect it to take up to 3 weeks, with diligent, heavy watering.

How do I get my lawn back?

Be patient. You can start watering again a) when all hosepipe bans are over and b) when rain is on the horizon. And not just a single shower, but proper week-after-week rain, like towards the end of autumn.

Step one: rake the lawn

A broad-finned rake, designed for gathering up leaves. Which this one is doing

A lawn care standard - before you do anything major to it, remove the debris that will have collected while you weren't mowing it. Rake carefully and lightly, so you don't hoik out the grass that remains. You're trying to take away leaves, not scour the dirt.

To do that, use a softer leaf rake rather than a scarifying one. Scarifying is for post-weedkiller, not pre-recovery.

Step two: water


Hopefully you saw this one coming, and it's refreshing that it comes so soon in the process. You'll get nowhere without reintroducing water to the soil, and you need to make sure it gets in deep.

Water at the end of the day when the sun is low and you can guarantee maximum absorption. Water heavily, more than you might do so normally, for a couple of days. After that, water how you would have done before this whole dry mess began - once every few days.

Step three: avoid walking on it

Or lying on it. Or eating it

Just as you might prefer not to be pushed down just after you've stood up, grass likes to be left alone as it lifts. When it's healthy grass can take a bit of a beating, but when coming back from drought grass needs as little stress as possible.

Dog lawn Photo by Benjamin Ilchmann on Unsplash
Featured image Photo by Kent Pilcher on Unsplash