For us in the UK we don’t tend to be affected by drought very often, because of the non-stop rain, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know how to deal with lawn care during drought when it comes around. In times of drought your lawn can take a real pounding, which can really spoil your summer relaxation. To keep it in shape for you to enjoy make sure you make use of the tips and advice I’ll be talking about below.
How To Tell If Your Lawn Is Suffering From Drought
If your lawn is struggling from the hot and dry weather then you’ll begin to notice the grass stop growing and turn brown. This means it’s deprived of water and is especially clear when the top 10 centimetres of soil dries out. The lawn grass will then become weak and as their roots begin to deteriorate, you could notice weeds and moss sprouting up in areas of bare soil – in this case you must take action as quick as possible.
In most cases the lawn looks worse than it actually is. Remember that different types of lawn have varying degrees of resistance to drought, ornamental lawns will most likely get damaged the most as they are less hardy.
In periods of hot and dry weather make sure you check the following:
- Footprints – a properly watered and healthy lawn will spring back back up once walked over (this is also a good indicator for when you need to water your lawn), whereas a dried out lawn will not bounce back and the footprints will stay there for a good while longer.
- Foliage – if you begin to notice the grass plants starting to wilt then this shows you it needs some water, the drier the plant the more obvious the wilting.
- Soil – if the soil is cracked and broken then there is no moisture for the grass to utilise, you can check this by sticking a key or screwdriver in the soil. If the soil is too dry, the soil penetration will be very difficult.
- Colour – as I said above a lawn that’s in lack of water will begin to change colour, at first it’ll go grey and then eventually go brown.
Please bare in mind you don’t need to worry if your weather takes a turn for the worst all of a sudden, drought will only affect your lawn when it lacks moisture within its soil, not just because the weather has gotten hot and dry for a week. If you’ve had some rainfall over the past few weeks then you should be OK, just sit back and enjoy the great weather!
What To Do In Times Of Drought
To avoid weakening the grass make sure you set the mowing height to the highest level and let the grass clippings fall back into the soil (mulching). The grass clippings act as mulch, which promotes better growth and health in the soil, and they help slow down the evaporation of water. Just make sure the grass clippings aren’t too large or they’ll smother the grass and cause even more damage! (a robotic lawn mower or a traditional mower with a mulching plug would be perfect!).
If there are no local government restrictions in place you should water your lawn on a regular basis and according to the needs on your lawn.
During periods of drought, water the lawn once if becomes dry but before it changes colour, this limits the damage. If you notice that the soil is getting really dry and cracked then try to aerate it before watering as this helps the water to reach the bottom of the roots. Make sure you water early in the morning, to reduce water lost to evaporation, and do so once every 7 to 10 days.
Make sure you don’t over-water the lawn as this is very wasteful, can encourage disease/moss and can drown the grass roots. Also make sure you do not under-water as this can cause shallow rooting.
Watering for an hour should be enough to give your lawn the moisture it requires.
Make sure you never use weed killers during a drought. They just stress the grass even more than it already is and will probably cause more damage because of it. Instead I would pick the weeds out manually, if you really want to get rid of them and then apply the weed killer when the dry period comes to an end.
As we all know you can purchase chemical weed killer, but why not make your own homemade organic weed killer? It only takes a few minutes to prepare and 3 simple ingredients.
Tips And Preventative Measures
Ensure you follow regular lawn maintenance schedule as a well maintained lawn recovers much faster (the roots are less likely to get damaged).
To learn more about summer, spring, autumn and winter lawn maintenance is important to ensure that your lawn is best prepared for not only drought conditions but also for cold winter conditions. Even in the autumn when the leaves are falling do not neglect to water the lawn to ensure you give it the best chance to recover from the stresses of the summer and be in a good condition for the start of the new growing season.
In the autumn after we had a dry summer, where the lawn was damaged by drought it is the ideal time to do lawn repair to make it stronger and more resistant for the next year.
If you are planning to over-seed or re-seed your lawn or use new turf, it is a good idea to consider drought tolerant grass that is best suited to your geographical location and will be more resistant to drier weather conditions compared to standard ornamental grasses.
Weed killers and fertilisers must not be used on drought affected lawns, as they will cause more stress to your lawn and possibly damage.
Cut your grass on a higher setting during dry periods, this will help the lawn from drying out.
If you have severe issues with drought, you can also consider different ground cover such as decking, paving or drought resistant plants.
If you found this post interesting then maybe you’d like to see some of my other lawn care articles, or perhaps you are looking for a new mower? All this information and more can be found on my Easy Lawn Mowing website.
If you have any questions please use the comments box below, I am always happy to help.