Summer in Australia means heat. And not just any heat; we’re talking 40+ degrees burning through a depleted ozone and scorching the earth. That type of heat.
Lawns sold in Australia are generally a hardy bunch. The likes of Kikuyu, Couch, Zoysia and Buffalo have been developed to cope with the more brutal moments of an Australian summer admirably. But simply coping with the conditions doesn’t make for an attractive patch of turf. Coping just means it isn’t dead yet.
You want your lawn to look its best all year round, whether the mercury is sitting at 4C or 40C. The good thing is that this mission is very much possible, provided you put in place a solid lawn maintenance routine during these hot spells.
So what do you need to do to ensure that your front yard is home to a 5-star lawn when the bitumen starts to melt?
Go easy on the H2O
Ironically the biggest danger to lawns during hot stretches is overwatering. “You can’t have too much of a good thing”, said your Grandma, but unfortunately she wasn’t talking about the irrigation of your prized patch of turf.
By watering your lawn every day its roots have no reason to penetrate deep into the soil. They stay close to the surface, meaning the lawn will be in big trouble if you forget to water for a day or two. If your lawn in constantly moist it also becomes a breeding ground for pests and disease. But a good soak twice a week will promote deep root growth and increase your lawn’s drought tolerance.
When water is at a premium
The realities of living on the world’s driest inhabited continent mean that many Australian cities are subject to water restrictions over summer. This can make watering your lawn tricky. If you are forced to limit your water usage it’s best to hold off on mowing, as this will just add another stress to an already weary lawn.
Hold the fertiliser
At first glance, offering your lawn a healthy dose of fertiliser during the heat of summer may seem like a smart idea. Giving it the nutrients it needs to grow and get stronger during such a trying time of year seems a no brainer.
But the reality is quite the opposite. By fertilising your lawn in the heat of summer you’ll be asking it to grow when it should really be focussing on survival. Your lawn’s resources will be overextended, stressing it out and causing it to brown off.
Let it grow
Set your mower to a higher cutting level over summer. While the heat of January will be stressful, the plentiful sun allows your lawn to go wild with photosynthesis. By leaving a longer blade, your lawn will have a greater ability to produce energy from the sun and strengthen itself.
Don’t forget the one third rule either; never take off more than one third of the grass blade at one time. This rule will have you mowing regularly, but it can make an incredible difference to the health and look of your turf.
Maintain your mower
Have you ever tried to shave with a blunt razor? It’s an uncomfortable experience. In the same way, your lawn will find a blunt blade on your mower a little distressing. Blunt blades tear at the grass rather than giving it a clean cut – this tearing effect takes far longer to recover from, and when energy is at a premium this can lead to your lawn developing ugly, stressed out brown patches.
Make your lawn a cannibal
While you don’t need to pair it with fava beans and a nice chianti, having your lawn cannibalise itself is one of the best things you can do during the summer heat. Grass clippings are essentially a slow release fertiliser, so leave your mower’s catcher in the shed and let the clippings return from whence they came.
Do you have any other queries regarding summer lawn maintenance? Don’t hesitate to contact the friendly team at McKays!