Waterwise lawn care
Summer is approaching, and with it comes the question – “should I water the lawn?”
Water is a precious resource that we tend to take for granted until there is a hosepipe ban. If all of us were to practice waterwise gardening, the need for restrictions will be reduced.
If you are like me and your water is metered, you’ll be wanting to adopt some money saving gardening tips.
Watering a newly turfed lawn
Unfortunately, there’s no getting out of this one. If your lawn has only very recently been turfed, you MUST water it or risk having the whole thing die on you.
Don’t scrimp on the watering in the first two weeks. The first 5-8 cm soil beneath the turf must be kept moist at all times otherwise the roots will fail to establish.
Water as soon as you’ve finished laying your turf, giving it a really good soaking. Thereafter, water every evening, without fail for the first two weeks.
In really hot weather, you might find yourself watering twice a day.
Always do this chore in the late evening or the early morning. The idea is to let the water soak through into the soil before the sun beats down and evaporates it.
A good way to make the budget go further is to incorporate some water retaining granules into the soil before you lay your turf. What you spend on granules will easily be saved in water and in time spent watering.
Once the roots are starting to push down into the soil, you can water every other day for the next fortnight, then once or twice a week depending on the weather.
Keep irrigating for at least the first 8 weeks. After that, you should be fine.
Watering an established lawn
In a word. Don’t. Grass is one of the toughest plants on the planet. It has all sorts of internal mechanisms to help it cope with drought. If your grass lawn is well established and in good health before the weather gets hot and dry, it will cope admirably.
The leaves may lose their colour and go brown for a while, but rest assured, they will green up after the first rain falls.
There are things you can do to keep your lawn greener for longer – and they need to be done before summer arrives.
Feed your lawn with the right formula for the time of year. Winter feeds are as important as summer ones because it’s in winter that the roots grow downwards towards the water table. Grass plants with long roots can reach groundwater much better than grass plants with shorter roots.
Feed your lawn BEFORE drought sets in
Scarify and aerate your lawn in early spring. By removing the thick layer of dead leaves and moss that we call “thatch”, you allow water to permeate into the soil quicker and easier. Aerating undoes the damage done by heavy wear. You may hear that referred to as “compaction” which means that all the pockets of air in the soil have been squished into non-existence. Opening up the soil structure by aerating the lawn will again allow rainwater to soak down to the roots where the grass can use it.
Raise the height of your mower blades. The longer the grass, the greener it will stay. That’s because the grass blades provide fuel to the roots to enable them to keep absorbing water AND longer grass shades the soil keeping it cool and moist.
Useful advice on watering your lawn
This advice from the Turfgrass Growers Association on watering your lawn is excellent – download the sheet and stick it on your shed wall to remind you
The horticultural trades association have created an e-leaning course on saving water in the garden.
Find out more here