What can I do to help my lawn survive the hot summer?
Warm season turf grass species commonly used in Australia need very little water to survive and are very hardy. If water is withheld for long periods they will sit dormant (shut down tissue growth to preserve moisture loss) until the next rain or irrigation event. This can look like loss of colour, brown and dry and minimum leaf growth but as soon as water returns, they will bounce back quickly.
You can usually tell if a lawn is dormant rather than dead by looking at the crown at the base of the leaves. If the crown is white to off white, it is likely that it is still alive. A dead lawn will be dry, brown and brittle across the entire plant – the leaves, the roots and the crown.
You can help your lawn beat the summer heat by:
Remove Thatch – Removing dead material from the lawn profile will help the living plant to absorb all the available moisture.
Aeration – Improving the ability for water to penetrate to the roots will be important to take best advantage of water when it is available, but also to improve moisture in the soil where it is needed during the next dry spell.
Stay off the lawn – Your grass is already having a hard time and the drier it is, the more it is likely to be damaged and not be able to recover from foot traffic or additional wear.
Water effectively – When you can water, do so for longer, less frequently. Encourage deeper roots that can delve deeper into the soil to find moisture. This will allow your lawn to stay hydrated for longer, even if there has been an extended period without rain.
Apply a wetting Agent – Make your water go further with a wetting agent. Hydrophobic soil is caused by the decomposition of organic matter, which leaves a wax like substance forming a coating on soil particles. A wetting agent like Lawn Soaker will break down this coating allow water to penetrate.
ColourGuard Plus – If your lawn has lost some colour and vigour from the heat, a good option is ColourGuard Plus. It’s a natural pigment with a liquid fertiliser. It’s a great solution during drought conditions to keep your grass green and to save water at the same time.
Mowing – The key to your lawn mowing in summer is to make sure you mow during the cooler time of the day and to mow regularly. You want to keep on top of the leaf growth, so you don’t remove too much at a time. Removing more than a third of the leaf at any one time, will cause stress to the grass roots.