After the recent hot, dry weather, many of us are currently staring in dismay at a poor dried out brown area that used to be a beautiful lawn. But surely now is not the time to embark on extensive repair? What about if it’s dry throughout August too? So what can we do to keep the lawn going for the rest of the summer?
First of all, and most importantly, don’t stop mowing! Yes, we know that the lawn is very short and seems to be suffering. But do keep mowing, albeit with the blades set a little bit higher than usual. This will ensure that light and what little moisture is available continue to get through to the roots and keep the grass healthy. You can, however, leave the clippings behind and not collect them if you like, to act as a mulch to retain moisture. However, they will need to be raked out come the autumn, so you may feel that this is going to make work later.
You should also continue to feed your lawn throughout August, stopping in late August or early September. Use a feed sold as a spring and summer feed, as this will provide suitable nutrients to keep your lawn growing, and follow the instructions on the packet about application, watering in and so on. The reason why you stop after late August is that you don’t want to encourage the lawn to grow tender new growth that will then be susceptible to any early autumn frosts.
And finally, the part you’ve all been waiting for: watering. Lawns are incredibly tough. No, really they are. Lawn turf will recover astonishingly quickly from a summer’s drought as soon as the rain starts again. And just at the moment, we seem to be having dry periods followed by heavy rain. So you may find that you can get through August and early September without having to water your lawn at all.
But since there’s no hosepipe ban, you may feel that it would be best to water, especially if you had to buy turf to lay last winter. If so, don’t water too often. Too much water makes the grass much less drought tolerant in the long term, as it encourages shallow root growth. Instead, water once every week to ten days, and leave your sprinkler on only for about 10 to 15 minutes per area. This should be enough to soak the ground down to 12cm, the depth recommended by the Royal Horticultural Society, and ensure that the roots have access to water.
And finally, whatever happens, don’t panic. Your lawn will probably recover, and if it doesn’t, there’s always patching!