For the more temperate areas of Australia – southern Western Australia, southern New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania – summer means long, hot, bone-dry days that stretch on for months at a time. Australia is famous for its harsh weather, and these areas are the prime examples of such climatic extremes, with many hitting 40C+ for days at a time.
So how can you help your lawn to survive such debilitating summer conditions? The process is best started in spring. You want to get your grass as strong as possible while the weather is moist and mild, so that it enters summer in the healthiest state possible. Here are a few tips on how to best prepare your southern Australian lawn.
The first step is to let your lawn breathe. Aeration is vital to your lawn’s summer health and well-being. It allows moisture and air to penetrate the surface, encouraging strong root growth. For smaller lawns, use a garden fork to create aerating holes in the soil, focusing on high traffic areas. For larger lawns, a purpose-built aerator may be more appropriate.
Much like compacted soil, thatch – the buildup of dead lawn debris – can serve to suffocate your lawn’s roots. Spring is a great time to dethatch, before the worst of the summer heat begins. Run a stiff-fingered rake over your lawn to remove the debris.
To build your lawn’s strength up, fertilise the grass in spring. The ideal type of fertiliser will depend on the type of grass that you have, but a good all-rounder is a slow release, nitrogen-heavy option. Try to scale back your fertilising around a month before summer, as dry heat on fertiliser can result in burns to your lawn.
If your lawn is looking a little tired in places, a pre-summer reseed may be in order. Spring is a peak growing season for many grasses, so is a perfect time to over-seed bare patches. Again, the addition of a nitrogen-heavy, slow release fertiliser will have your lawn repairing itself in no time.
An often ignored aspect of a healthy lawn is regular mowing. It can be tempting to let it grow out and mow every few weeks, but taking so much of the blade off at once can cause the lawn great stress. Taking no more than a third of the blade off at a time will result in the healthiest of lawns, which, pre-summer, will most likely mean mowing every weekend.
As the dry heat of summer hits, regular watering is paramount to the health of your lawn. You’ll need to keep to whatever water-saving regulations your area enforces, but beyond that, the best time to water is either early in the morning or late in the evening, when the evaporation caused by the summer sun is at its lowest. Slow, steady watering will allow your lawn to soak up as much moisture as possible.
Weeds and Pests
Weeds and pests can infiltrate your lawn and make it unhealthy from the inside out. The worst time for this to happen is prior to summer, when your lawn needs to be as healthy as possible. Take the time in spring to weed your lawn, preferably by hand to minimise the amount of herbicides that could affect its health. A spray of pesticide over the lawn will help to limit the damages of invasive and harmful bugs.
In the end, preparing your lawn for summer is simply about good lawn maintenance. The things listed here should really be on your mind all year round, rather than just at times when your lawn’s mettle will be tested.
But that said, by offering your lawn a helping hand in the lead-up to summer, you’re giving yourself the best chance of enjoying a soft, green and happy turf through this trying time of year.
If you’ve got any other summer lawn maintenance queries, don’t hesitate to contact the friendly team at McKays.