The hot weather can put a strain on your grass so give it some help
The sunshine and dry weather usually means you can take advantage of your garden and enjoy it as a recreational space, but once we’ve had a few weeks of non-stop sun, high temperatures and no rain your lovingly tended green lawn can start to suffer. That lush look can fade to be replaced by a yellowy brown, bone dry expanse.
What can you do to keep it looking good?
While it’s likely considered folly to second guess the UK weather and plan for a hot summer, it’s fair to say we often have at least one or two spells of hotter weather each year even if it isn’t always approaching the extreme legendary hot summer of 1976. Therefore, work you do on your lawn in the autumn and spring can help it at least stand up better to draught like conditions should they occur.
Keeping your lawn healthy year-round helps it generate healthy blades and deep roots so enabling it to retain whatever moisture is on offer when conditions become drier.
Another option is to remove the concern of browning and maybe dying grass by installing a fake surface; for residents in the south east there’s experienced suppliers of artificial grass in Essex.
Assuming it’s not too wet, a weekend of mowing, raking and feeding can really set your lawn up for whatever winter may throw at it and set the foundations for the spring and summer of the following year.
Cut the grass twice in opposite directions then rake thoroughly to remove stems, stalks and moss. Apply an autumn feed along with a thin dressing of soil and work into the lawn with the back of your rake.
Some people more or less forget about their lawn in the winter, but it’s worth mowing at a high blade setting if the weather is mild enough for the grass to grow. Don’t mow in wetter conditions as you may put ruts in that will ‘set’ into the surface.
At the beginning of spring mow with the blades at their highest setting; resist the urge to mow too close too soon.
Deal with any moss by using moss killer or raking it out and use a spring and summer lawn feed and, if any weeds are appearing as they may well do by now, a weed killer.
Mow depending on growth rate; wet but warm conditions will see plenty of growth, so you may be mowing twice a week. On the other hand, if a draught is setting in it may not grow much if at all.
If the grass is beginning to lose its colour due to relentless sunshine, be careful of feeding; either don’t feed at all or use a liquid feed – but only if there is some moisture in the soil.
When draught conditions strike
There is a certain amount you can do to help your lawn in a draught, but don’t worry unduly; grass is naturally able to cope with severe sun and heat and the turning brown – whilst not great aesthetically – is a consequence of dry conditions and you’ll soon literally see the ‘green shoots of recovery’ once some rain falls.
Watering – you may be prohibited from watering if there’s a hosepipe ban in place, but if not then it can help parched grass.
A quick watering when the surface is almost rock hard won’t be worthwhile as the water will run off before it can soak in. It’s better to water for a prolonged period less frequently – say one hour with a sprinkler in a specific area – as the soil will become thoroughly wetted and promote stronger root growth.
Shade – you’ll notice grass in shaded areas stays greener for longer, so where possible protect vulnerable areas with, say, some garden furniture or other structures that will keep thinner areas covered.
Mowing – mow as high as possible; longer grass helps keep the soil cooler, reduces evaporation and traps more dew so helping your grass make the most of lower night temperatures and the resultant moisture.
Aeration – worthwhile even if the ground is so hard the spikes can’t penetrate the surface much; this will help any watering you do and any rain that does fall will more easily get into the soil and the roots.
Feed and weed killer – apart from liquid feeding as discussed earlier, don’t use other types and avoid weed killers as they work best when grass is growing properly. You risk burning the grass if you use feeds and weed killers when there’s no rain (even if you can water be careful as it may dry long before the chemicals you’re applying work into the surface).
Do what you can to help your lawn but remember the alternative; artificial grass could save you the year-round time and trouble of maintaining your grass and ensure you have a lush surface to enjoy the sunshine on.