Is my lawn dead?

If you’re looking out at your garden, cup of tea in hand and asking yourself ‘is my lawn dead?’, you’re not alone. With the current lack of rain combined with soaring temperatures, Britain is set for one of the driest summers ever, which unfortunately means that most of us are seeing something that looks a lot like this:

Is my lawn dead?

It’s enough to make you want to curl up in a little ball and not come out again until September. But, I have four words for you:

Snap out of it!

Despite what you may think, your lawn isn’t dead. And here’s why…

What brown or yellow grass means

Grass is one of the most resilient plants on earth. Think about all the things it has to put up with: being grazed, being cut every week through the spring into the summer, enduring frost through the winter. Like many other amazing plants, grass has found a way to adapt.

During periods of drought, grasses actually stop sending supplies of nutrients to their leaves, and so become brown or yellow.

But beneath the ground, the roots are still healthy. And if you actually take a closer look into a piece of grass, you can find that it’s still green at the base of the foliage, right near to the crown. You may need to peel away some of the brown to see that. But, it proves how the grass is protecting itself.

I would advise leaving your lawn alone, as watering it could make it less able to cope with drought… However, if you really insist, then you do have a few options..

One important reminder to remember is that lawn care is a science—therefore, understanding the basic elements and knowing what they mean can be important. Lawn care professionals should make sure that they maintain a proper grass management plan. Properly implemented, a maintenance plan will ensure that a lawn will stay healthy for years to come.

Another important key to understand when trying to rejuvenate your lawn is that grass grows best when the necessary nutrients, water, sunlight, and aeration are present. If any of these elements are missing or deficient, grass will begin to wilt, die, or reduce in size. For example, without enough sunlight a lawn will not grow properly. Similarly, without enough water and nutrients, a lawn will not flourish.

In order to ensure that a lawn is kept in optimal health and appearance, proper aeration should be included in the lawn’s care. Aerating a lawn prevents excessive amounts of moisture from being held in the soil for too long and also helps loosen compacted soil. This will allow grass roots to move freely throughout the soil, allowing them to absorb the necessary nutrients. Aerating also helps remove compacted soil, which will help keep the water in the soil longer. Lastly, if left untreated, compacted soil will break down and cause brown spots or turf stains.

How should you water grass in summer?

Using sprinklers on the lawn doesn’t really have much effect. Watering at a shallow level encourages shallow root growth, and not deeper growth, which is what the plants really need. So, if you want to really water your grass, you’re going to need to flood it. Your lawn will need wetting to depth of about 10cm.

Before you begin, make holes in the grass with a gardening fork, so that the water can penetrate the soil easier.

If possible, use waste water. Recycle water that you’ve used for washing up, or even bath water, because there is only a very small amount of soap that won’t harm your plants. When it gets to autumn, set up a water butt (if you haven’t already), and so you can be more prepared next year.

However, do take note also of the specific purpose for which you’re watering your grass. When choosing between a sprinkler system and a hose, water requirements will be different for each. For example, when it’s time to lay new grass, a sprinkler will be more effective than a hose because you will be able to cover more ground with less water, and you will not drown new roots or wash away your seed. On the other hand, using a hose with a timer can be more time-efficient if you are only cutting small patches of grass. You can adjust the nozzle of the sprinkler to get the exact amount of water on the grass blades.

Should you cut your grass now?

Ideally, no. But if you insist, set the blades high and leave the clippings on the surface of the lawn after cutting, this will help to mulch the lawn and keep the moisture locked in!

How can you make your lawn drought-proof?

There’s a clever way to have a green lawn, without any real effort. Let me tell you how…

Next year in early summer (around June), when the summer heat seems a world away, I would recommend setting your blades high for your later cuts. By keeping the grass a little longer, it will be more drought tolerant, plus allowing some clover and trefoil plants to grow will give the lawn a greener appearance as the summer heats up…

Watch me talking about summer lawn maintenance on This Morning with Eamonn & Ruth below!

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