Lawn watering & irrigation
During periods of drought during the summer months, you will need to think about some kind of lawn watering or irrigation program to maintain the quality of your lawn.
Usually the amount of rainfall in a typical British summer is enough to keep to root zone moist and the lawn in a healthy condition.
However when there is no rainfall for a long period your lawn will need watering. How much depends on several factors including your soil type, grass species, height of cut etc.
A heavy clay soil sown with ryegrass and cut at 25mm will withstand a drought better than a closely mown lawn on a sandy root zone and require less lawn watering. Therefore each lawn will have different watering requirements.
Prepare your lawn for drought
While we can not control the weather in the UK, there are numerous techniques we can employ to help create a deep and healthy root system. These techniques will help encourage drought resistant grasses.
It is important to carry out these tasks, especially as local authorities are quick to implement hosepipe bans during dry periods. These techniques are as follows:
Aeration: By aerating at key times of the year we are creating channels through the root zone. This will encourage the root system to go down creating a healthy plant. You will also relieve compaction with certain types of aeration. Please see our aeration page for more information.
Top Dressing: After any type of aeration has taken place, channels through the root zone will have been created. By top dressing afterwards and rubbing the material in to these holes or channels will create ideal conditions for root growth. This practice is especially beneficial after hollow tining has taken place.
Encourage drought resistant grasses: With the correct lawn care management techniques it is possible to encourage grasses that will withstand drought conditions better than others. These practices include the correct use of fertilisers and water (don't over feed or over water).
Raise the Height of cut: By raising the height of cut on your mower you will help to relieve some of the stress placed on the grass by the drought. It is also important to keep your mower sharp which helps the grass recover quicker after mowing.
The use of wetting agents: Wetting agents have been widely used for many years in the professional turf care industry to combat the effects of drought and dry conditions on turf. These products help water move downward into to soil profile where it is needed, they also prevent and remedy dry patch. For more info on these products please visit our wetting agent page.
When to water your lawn
Don't rush out with the hosepipe or sprinklers as soon as it turns dry in summer. In fact letting the lawn dry a little will encourage deeper rooting, as roots tend to go down in search for water. On the other hand don't let the lawn go completely yellow or brown before deciding to do something about it.
When the grass starts to change from a deep green to a blue/grey - green hue then the time is right to irrigate your lawn. Another tip is to purchase a soil sampler and inspect the root zone for lack of moisture.
If it is very dry then it will need water. If the surface is very hard a light spiking before irrigating would be beneficial in aiding water penetration.
How often to water your lawn
There are no hard and fast rules on lawn irrigation. Under normal conditions generally try and water heavily once a week letting the root zone dry out somewhat between watering.
However if the temperatures are very high, more frequent irrigation maybe needed. Also note that light sandy soils will dry out quicker than heavy clay soils and will require more water.
Generally speaking it is better to avoid watering little and often. This practice tends to lead to over watering and it keeps the soil wet for prolonged periods and can encourage shallow rooting grasses like annual meadow grass.