How to help your lawn during a drought

Hot Summer Days and Drought...

Yet again, we've had another very dry summer, lots of sunshine and a bit of drought.

This is great from the perspective of being able to get out there in the sunshine and enjoy yourself with family and friends, plenty of days out, trips to the beach, BBQ's and relaxing in the summer sunshine but just by looking at it, you can see your lawn is probably bearing the brunt of all this hot dry weather with little rainfall.

The lawn will look tired and possibly brown but fear not, your patch of once green paradise is more resilient than you think.

Is my lawn dead?

Probably not.

Without water, grass will naturally go dormant after 2 to 3 weeks and can survive up to 6 weeks without any water at all but you will see the evidence of this, with your grass turning brown.

However, it doesn't mean it's dead and usually, it can be saved.

What to do first?

Firstly check it is down to lack of water and not Thatch.

Thatch is a mixture of living and dead organing matter, roots, stems etc. that can build up around the root system of your grass.
It continues to build up layer on layer and decomposes at a very slow rate, creating a barrier preventing water from getting to your lawns root system.

Thatch often makes the lawn feel spongy underfoot but to check, dig a 2 deep test hole in your lawn, a healthy lawn should have around 1/2 an inch of thatch between the grass and the surface of the soil.

How to remove Thatch.

For a small layer of thatch, a good rake will usually suffice, bringing the dead matter to the surface so it can be removed, or you may need to use a power rake, turf rake or scarifier to assist with larger areas.

For thicker layers of thatch over 1/2 an inch then you'll need to aerate your soil with an aerator to loosen the soil to allow water, air and nutrients to penetrate the soils root system.

What about water?

If you've not been subjected to a hosepipe ban, then watering usually brings the lawn back to life.

Aim to water your grass every 7 days or if the soil becomes very dry but don't over water.

Overwatering makes the grass less resilient to drought conditions, encourages shallow roots and can promote moss and other lawn diseases, plus it's wasteful of water.

You should water your grass either early morning or in the evening to reduce water wastage from evaporation.

A simple way to check if your lawn is getting enough water from your hosepipe or sprinkler is to dig a small hole in your lawn, after watering and the water should have penetrated down to a depth of around 4 inches.
If you time how long it takes the water to reach this depth, it will give you a good indication as to how long you need to water your grass for.

Mowing

We suggest raising the cutting height of your mower in drought conditions as cutting it too short can stress the grass and cause it to turn dry and brown.
Remove no more than a third of the height of the grass with each cut.

Let the clippings fall back onto the lawn rather than collecting and disposing of them.
Leaving the clippings on the lawn act as mulch and slow the evaporation of water from the surface of the soil.
Just make sure the clippings are small otherwise they could cover the grass too much and smother it.

After the drought

Once the weather stabilises and we are back to a bit of rainfall, it's best to wait until the autumn to repair any permanently damaged areas of the lawn as this will help the grass become more drought resistant the next year.

Break up the lawn surface with a rake until you have a nice fine seedbed.
Overseed the areas and then lightly rake the seed into the soil surface and water gently with a sprinkler.
the seeds should start to sprout a week to two weeks after sowing.

So Don't Panic

It may look bad at the moment but your lawn is a tough little customer and in the majority of cases, will survive the drought and return to a nice healthy lawn for you to enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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