As summer reaches its peak, many parts of the country are blazing hot and bone dry, and extended periods of drought (coupled with watering restrictions) can put a lot of stress on your lawn. But if your grass already looks dry and crispy, it’s (probably) not actually dead, and all is not lost. Even in extreme conditions, grass may go dormant but still have live roots and crowns.

There are a number of steps you can take now to ensure your lawn not only survives a drought, but thrives after.

Change your mower settings

You can still cut your lawn during a drought, but you need to keep it longer by mowing higher by an inch or two compared to normal conditions. Taller grass helps reduce moisture loss from the soil and keeps weeds at bay. The recommended height depends on the specific type of grass you have, but in general, make sure your mower blades are sharp so they cut evenly. Avoid mowing during dormancy if possible.

If you do mow, mulch the clippings instead of bagging them. This helps maintain soil moisture and nutrients.

Water deeply, but less often

Your grass can tolerate dry conditions for awhile, but it can’t survive the entire summer without water. If possible, water a few times per week for about 30 minutes (about 1 inch of water) during the early morning, which provides the best chance for water to soak in.

If your grass is dormant, you can reduce the frequency to 1/2 inch of water every two to four weeks. Watering deeply, even at a reduced frequency, helps your grass grow stronger roots compared to watering in short stints.

Be sure to follow local water restrictions, and consider building a rain barrel to use during dry periods.

Weed regularly, by hand

Weeds compete with your grass for resources, and some tolerate drought conditions well. Stay on top of weeds even during the dry season, pulling them out by hand, to avoid seeds from spreading. Avoid herbicide use if possible, as they don’t absorb well in hot temperatures and can over-stress your turf.

Pause all other lawn care

Fertilizing, aerating, and dethatching can put too much stress on dry and dormant grass, so put these tasks off until a later date. Fertilizer requires a lot of water and can actually weaken or burn your lawn, so this is best used in the spring or fall depending on your grass type.

Aerating and dethatching are important processes for reducing issues like lawn compaction and poor drainage. Aeration is most effective in spring or fall, while the dethatching is best done in late winter.

Keep off the grass

You may not spend as much time in your yard when it’s hot and dry, and this is a good thing for your lawn. Foot traffic from adults, kids, and pets can stress your turf and compact your soil, so hold off on hosting parties and playing games to reduce the impact until drought conditions pass.