Help Your Lawn Survive the Summer Heat – Responsibly!
Level 1 Water Restrictions are now in force in NSW, and it is more important than ever that each and every one of us is responsible with our water usage.
As we all know, unfortunately tough drought conditions are affecting many parts of Australia right now. Because of this, Level 1 Water Restrictions are now in force in NSW, and it is more important than ever that each and every one of us is responsible with our water usage.
You may be thinking, “But with water restrictions now in force, how can I help my lawn survive the harsh summer heat?” The good news is, it is generally only the most severe of conditions, endured over a considerable amount of time that would cause your lawn to completely die off due to lack of water.
Many warm season turf varieties commonly used throughout Australia such as Sir Walter DNA Certified turf, are extremely hardy and actually require very little water to survive.
How long can my lawn actually survive without water?
Despite fully established grass generally feeling quite soft and delicate, it is actually very resilient. During the hottest part of our Aussie Summer, most common lawn varieties will lose some colour, and become brown and dry, with little to no leaf growth.
However, don’t fret – this is just your lawn going into a state of dormancy (much like it does in the middle of Winter to protect itself from the colder conditions). Generally, your lawn will sit dormant until it receives its next rain downpour or watering. Most common turf varieties in Australia can survive extended periods of drought, so don’t worry too much about long gaps in between watering.
How can I tell if my lawn is in dormancy, or dead?
When grass enters into a state of dormancy during Summer when temperatures are extremely high, it protects itself by shutting down tissue growth to preserve moisture loss.
You can tell if a lawn is dormant rather than dead – by looking at the crown at the base of the leaves. If this crown is white or off-white, then it is likely that the grass is still alive. If the lawn is dead, it will be brown, dry and brittle across the whole plant – including the leaves, roots and the crown.
During long periods of drought, as the soil underneath your turf becomes drier, the plant roots need to work harder to extract water, until eventually it is unable to extract any further water from the soil and goes into a permanent wilting point (PWP).
Many turf varieties used in Australia can handle staying in dormancy for approximately 3-4 weeks without beginning to deteriorate to the point of death (or PWP). If your lawn is still in a state of dormancy when the prolonged period without rain or watering end, then it is generally able to start regenerating.
TIP: To prevent the death of your lawn, you will eventually need to provide the moisture that it desperately needs. Whilst this is difficult to do when strict water restrictions are in place, there are some other ways you can help your lawn to survive throughout a drought period.
Ways to help your lawn survive throughout a long drought period
Improving the ability for water to penetrate to the roots by aerating is important for your lawn to be able to best take advantage of water when it does become available. Aerating before the extended drought period hits will also improve moisture in the soil where it is needed, during the next dry spell.
2. Remove thatch & debris
Help your lawn to absorb all the moisture available to it by removing any dead thatch or other debris from its surface.
3. Stay off your lawn
In the thick of out Aussie Summer, your grass is already having a hard time! So, try to stay off it as much as possible, as the drier it is, the more likely it is to be damaged and not be able to recover from heavy foot traffic.
4. Effective watering (not frequent watering!)
The most effective way to water your lawn during extended periods of drought is to water it for longer, but less frequently. This will encourage the growth of roots that can delve deeper down into the soil to find moisture and will allow your grass to stay hydrated for longer, even during a long period of time without rain or watering.
So, with water restrictions currently in force, what is responsible watering?
- Before 10am and after 4pm – water your garden with a hand-held hose fitted with a trigger nozzle
- At any time – water your garden with a drip irrigation system
With water restrictions now in force, it is important that you only irrigate your lawn when there isn’t enough rainfall to meet the needs of your lawn – and when you do so, do so within the rules outlined by our NSW water restrictions.
The beauty of one of Australia’s most commonly used turf varieties (DNA Certified Sir Walter Buffalo), is that it requires far less water than most other varieties to survive.