Summer brings both rewards and challenges for lawn owners when the majority of lawns in Australia will be in their peak growing cycle, and as a result – should be thriving if being cared for properly. Many other lawn owners will face many problems with their lawns when the heat arrives and their lawns aren’t prepared. As a result, an unprepared lawn will suffer great heat stress throughout Summer.
The situation of heat stress and suffering lawns may lead many people to try and rectify the problem by watering every day to try and keep the water up to what appears to be a drought stressed lawn – unfortunately this makes the problems even worse.
The key to a strong healthy lawn in Summer is a deep root system, plus good lawn care practices.
A deep root system allows the roots of the lawn to live below the evaporation level of the upper soil and deeper in the soil where there is a constant water supply – which we must maintain. This practice will protect our lawns from heat stress.
To create a deep lawn root system, we must train the roots of the lawn to search deeper for water. This is done by restricting the availability of water at the soil surface on a regular basis.
Watering days should be restricted, while increasing the watering times of the reticulation system. This makes an abundant amount of water available deep in the soil – with enough water for the lawn to thrive.
In contrast – if the lawn was watered more frequently – the roots would stay at a constant shallow level, because there is no need for a deeper root system while there is abundant water at the surface.
Watering infrequently forces the lawn to search deeper into the soil for it’s water supply with it’s root system – and the increased watering times puts that water there.
The deep lawn root system has been trained, but the health of the lawn must also be maintained to achieve a true heat-proof lawn.
Soil water efficiency should be improved with applications of Wetting Agents.
Regular lawn fertilising strengthens the cells structure of the lawn, provides nutrients necessary for it’s food supply, and most importantly encourages root growth.
Regular lawn mowing will encourage the lawn to grow more green leaf instead of using it’s energy to spread. The extra green leaf will thicken the lawn, which in turn will further insulate the soil from water evaporation.
Low water and drought proof lawns can also be trained with only a few more lawn care tips, and well worth considering.
Aerate the lawn – help to promote the healthy formation of the lawn’s root system. Aerating your lawn will allow the grass to breathe while also enabling water, nutrients and oxygen to reach the root system in a more efficient manner. Best done early Spring, every 1-3 years, although high traffic area may require aeration more frequently.
Remove thatch – give your lawn a brisk raking to remove the thatch which is the decaying plant matter that accumulates on the ground. A layer of thatch more than 1.3cms deep has the potential to block sun from reaching the grass and water from reaching the roots. Best done in Spring and in conjunction with aeration.
Fertilise – make sure that you use a fertiliser designed for the variety of lawn you have. Best done in Spring but avoid applying 30 days before the peak of summer temperatures or just before or during the wet season in tropical areas.
Water – you should water your lawn with the roots in mind – deep watering of about 2.5cms of water once a week during the growing phase. Infrequent but deep watering is best to encourage deep and strong roots. Best done during the very early morning or at night.
Mowing – mow your lawn on a regular basis, mow in a different pattern each time, never cut more than one third of the grass plant and always use a mower with sharp blades. Frequent mowing during Spring with help to strengthen the roots and make the plants sturdy. When Summer arrives, raise the cutting height of your lawnmower, leaving the grass longer to better shade the soil and retain moisture.