Whether you’re in the hot and humid north or the bone dry south, the Australian summer is a challenging time for everyone. And just as the extremes of the Australian climate can test its residents, so too can plant life find the going tough.
So how do you ensure that your lawn makes it through summer? Here are nine quick tips that could be the difference between a bare brown patch, and a soft, dense, and luscious mat of turf.
The best time to water your lawn in summer is early in the morning. This period of the day is usually the coolest, minimising evaporation. You also get the benefit of the morning sun which allows the grass to conduct photosynthesis, further strengthening it. If you water at night (as many lawn owners do), you may well further minimise evaporation, but you won’t be capitalising on photosynthesis at all. Night watering can also lead to waterlogging, creating the perfect breeding ground for disease.
Avoid water run-off
When you see water slowly trickling off your lawn and into the gutter or onto your path, you’ve either saturated the soil or you’re watering too heavily for the moisture to be taken in by the lawn. Water slowly and steadily, and when run-off occurs, move your sprinkler to a different patch.
Direct the water wisely
You wouldn’t believe it, but the concrete paved and pebbled areas of your garden aren’t going to benefit much from a good soak. Those stepping stones will unfortunately refuse to grow no matter how much you water them. Getting an adjustable sprinkler that allows you to cover your lawn accurately will both save you money on water, and will water your lawn more evenly.
Use cool water
Water that sits in your hose can get incredibly hot, particularly if the hose is darkly coloured and laying in the sun. When you go to water your lawn, that first litre of water can often be hot enough to scold your grass, creating brown patches. Direct the first few seconds of water away from your lawn and plants to ensure that you’re not inadvertently burning them.
Be adaptable with your watering
While automatic sprinkler systems are God’s gift to lazy gardeners everywhere, you shouldn’t just set them and forget them. With Australian summer storms notoriously heavy, combining a good rain with a heavy sprinkler session can result in a drowned lawn. Be sure to shut your sprinklers of if rain is forecast for the days ahead.
Train your lawn to be strong
The key to a lawn’s drought resistance is its root system. If the roots stretch deep into the earth, your lawn will have greater access to whatever moisture your soil might hold. Your watering routine can have a huge effect on how your lawn’s roots develop. By giving your lawn a deep soak a couple of times a week rather than a short soak every day, you’re encouraging your lawn to extend its roots deeper and deeper into the earth, which is great news for drought tolerance.
Serve your lawn a hearty dinner
Whether it be a slow release fertiliser, or a quick-release spray-on fertiliser, giving your lawn a meal during the more challenging periods of summer will do wonders for its ability to handle the heat.
Give your lawn some breathing space
At a very basic level, your lawn is just like you; it needs food, water and air to survive. Aerating your lawn during summer will allow the roots to breathe, allow water to be better absorbed, and will generally encourage growth. It’s as simple as pushing your garden fork into the soil at 15-20cm intervals, or hiring an aerator (recommended for larger areas).
Stay on top of weeds
While it’s certainly tempting to let your weeds grow out and then attack them all at once, weeding early and often is vital to your lawn’s health. It will also end up being quicker and easier, as ripping out weeds as they germinate requires far less effort than yanking at established plants. Try to hand weed as much as possible, leaving herbicide as a last resort.
If you’ve got any more queries on how to get your lawn looking its best this summer, don’t hesitate to contact the friendly team at McKays.