Hot dry summers can play havoc with your lawn. Here’s how to protect your grass from drought, and keep it lush and green all summer long.
Image above: beads of water sitting on top of a water repellent soil
How to Get the Most Out of Watering Your Lawn in Summer
In line with your relevant water restrictions, apply Yates Waterwise Hose-On Soil Wetter to the lawn. This will help break down the waxy, water repellent layer that often develops on the soil particles, allowing moisture to penetrate more evenly and deep down below the soil surface and into the grass root zone where it’s needed. Once this is applied you can make the most of this by following up with a deep watering. Water early in the morning or late in the afternoon but ensure your lawn leaves are dry before night. All watering should be done deeply, but infrequently.
When drought hits, avoid walking on the grass frequently, so as not to break the leaves of the dry grass. If water restrictions allow, increase the watering on grass near buildings and other heat-reflecting surfaces.
How to Re-Use & Treat Waste Water Safely
Grey water can be used to irrigate your lawn, as well as ornamental (non-edible) plants. Avoid using grey water around Australian native plants, which can be sensitive to the phosphorus in some detergents. Potted plants shouldn’t be watered with grey water regularly either, due to the potential build-up of salts.
For use on your lawn, collect shower or bath water in buckets and tubs or divert it straight from the washing machine using a grey water hose. Significant amounts of water can be re-used if directed out onto your lawn. However, to neutralise the effect of alkaline soaps and detergents on soil pH, and kill unwanted microbes in the greywater, try Yates Greywater Fertiliser. It has been specially formulated to not only do this but also add missing nutrients to shower, bath and laundry greywater, so that it can be used to feed home garden plants and lawns.
What's the Best Method for Watering Your Lawn
Hand watering is a cheap and effective way to water a lawn, but can also take up a lot time and water, especially during the summer months. It’s suitable for small lawns, but for medium to large-sized lawns, consider installing sprinklers. Sprinklers can be attached to the hose and can be set with a timer to maximise efficiency. You can go one further with pop-up sprinklers. They can be highly automated, and settings can even be adjusted through your phone.
How Often to Water Your Lawn (Watering Frequency & Watering Cycles per Day)
How often you water your lawn per week and per day in summer, is affected by the weather, amount of sun, soil quality and type, and other environmental factors. During hot, dry and windy conditions, lawns need more frequent watering. On extreme days, the lawn may even need watering in the morning and the afternoon. Lawns in full sun will need watering more often than shadier lawns. Sandy soils and/or poor soils also means more frequent watering - so make sure you are using soil wetters (see Let Water In above), such as Yates Waterwise Hose-On Soil Wetter, and organic based fertilisers (see Green Up Lawns below) to help improve soil structure and soil moisture retention.
Early signs of under-watering include wilted leaves, and loss of colour, while later signs include crispy dry leaves, lawn yellowing and browning, and patchy lawns.
As a general guide, on extreme days water your lawn 1-2 times per day (keep an eye on the weather forecast and water your lawn before adverse conditions), and in average summer weather water your lawn once a day 3 times per week.
How Long to Water Your Lawn for (Watering Duration or "Run Time")
When watering, you should aim to apply at least 10 mm of water to your lawn. To understand how long you need to water to apply 10 mm, follow these easy steps:
Place a few clean tuna cans evenly over the lawn - the more cans you place out, the more accurate the final calculation will be.
Run your irrigation system for 10 minutes.
Using a ruler, record the depth of water captured in each can in millimetres.
Add the figures together and divide by the number of cans to obtain the average depth of water. Then calculate 100 divided by this figure to work out how many minutes you will need to run your irrigation system for your lawn to receive 10 mm of water.
100/(average depth of water) = approximate minutes run time
100/5 mm = 20 minutes run time
How to Find Issues with Your Irrigation Set-Up
The tuna can test will also allow you to see if there are any problem areas, i.e., if cans have less than the average, then potentially there could be a block or part that needs replacing.
What Height to Mow Your Lawn at in Summer
During summer, mowing higher than usual will encourage your grass to grow deeper roots, enabling it to reach water from lower down in the soil. Aim to cut at around 1-2 cm higher than usual; that’s 4-5 cm for warm season grasses such as Couch, Buffalo and Kikuyu, and around 3-4 cm for cool season grasses such as Fine Fescue, Ryegrass and Bent.
How to Mow to Prevent Lawn Stress
Make sure blades on your mower are sharp, and to get a nice clean cut, only ever cut your lawn when the leaves are dry.
What Time of Day to Mow Your Lawn
Mow early in the morning or in the evening, otherwise midday heat might stress or damage the leaves.
Image above: organic based lawn fertilisers promote soil health
What's the Best Fertiliser to Use on Your Lawn in Summer
The best way to green up lawns in summer is to feed with a complete organic-based fertiliser, like Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Lawn Food. The slow-release nutrients in this product will help to promote lush, green grass, but as it breaks down slowly, the lawn doesn’t experience a surge in growth nor do you experience a surge in mowing. Plus, the organic matter will also help promote long term soil health.
Image above: bindii - control before flowering and setting prickly and painful seeds
How to Get Rid of Common Lawn Weeds
Using Yates Weed ‘n’ Feed in the summer months can help prevent you coming back from holiday to a lawn full of weeds. As well as controlling common broadleaf weeds such as thistles and dandelions, it also contains iron to promote a rich green colour through your lawn.
How to Get the Most Out of a Lawn Weedkiller
It’s important your lawn is not under stress when applying a herbicide, so if you’ve been in drought or extended dry periods, you need to water the lawn thoroughly for a couple of weeks before applying a lawn weedkiller such as Yates Weed ‘n’ Feed.