By Dr. Atif Riaz and Asmat Karim
Looking after and maintaining a beautiful lawn is a rewarding experience. The results speak for themselves and are there for all to see. I believe that standing barefoot on grass is a multi-sensory experience. It triggers within us deeply rooted associations with the smell and sound of nature and the vision of dense greenery.
But summer is the time when drought can occur and a lawn can turn brown and straw coloured. Before addressing this problem the first thing to say is that well-maintained lawns will invariably recover once the rains return.
Good maintenance at other times of the year, aeration and appropriate feeding will help rooting and the lawn's ability to withstand and recover from periods of drought and hot temperature. If possible, avoidance is better than cure and the only way to prevent drought is to water the lawn.
There are two most important things to consider in hot summers with less water i.e., mowing height and frequency. If your lawn does suffer from drought then mow at heights around three inches or slightly higher. If in doubt, set the mower as high as it will go. Lawns maintained at higher heights usually develop deeper roots and dry out slower than closely mowed turf. Do not mow lawn more frequently in summer as it encourages new growth which requires more water. It’s better to mow lawn once a month depending upon grass condition.
If you can water it is best to do this at the first signs of drought, when the grass is still green but starting to show signs of stress (little growth and a dulling of the normal bright green coloration). If you can water, try to irrigate lawns deeply and infrequently, applying about 1 to 1-1/2 inches per application. Water should soak down into the soil. If allowed to go dormant, lawns only need about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water every 2 to 3 weeks to keep root and crown tissue alive. The general rule here is early morning or in the evening, which probably suits most homeowners. Do not feed lawn during summer, as it enhances growth of grass and ultimately requires more water.
Weeds are the worst competitors of lawn which do not only spoil the beauty but also compete for water. Weeds should be treated using a suitable selective herbicide. Alternatively weed them out by hand or using a sickle / mechanical weeder remembering to get the root of the weed out.
About author: Dr. Atif Riaz is working as Assistant Professor at Institute of Horticultural Sciences, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad. He is specialized in the field of Floriculture and Landscape and currently working on development of a sustainable landscape strategy for stress conditions including, drought, salinity, and temperature extremes, by using plant species tolerant to these stresses. Email: email@example.com
Copyright Hortist, 2013