The Lawn Dilemma
The current dry spell may have turned your once lush, green lawn into an ugly patchwork of brown and yellow.
You might have been enjoying your garden more than usual during lockdown but those games of football and barbecues can take their toll on your turf.
But don't despair. The emerald swathe that was once the envy of your neighbours will return at some point.
The instant reaction to a dried up lawn may be to grab a hose or sprinkler, but the reality is that there is little point.
When grass turns brown it's actually nature's way of it surviving dry conditions and the lawn will spring back into vigour once wet weather returns.
Water is a precious resource and hose pipes and sprinklers can use up to 1,000 litres of water an hour, which is worth thinking about if you're on a meter.
It's best to concentrate your watering on where it's really needed at this time of the year - hanging baskets and containers full of bedding plants or the vegetable patch or greenhouse.
Don't worry about established shrubs and other plants - their roots go deep down into the ground.
But if you really, really must water your lawn, do so in the morning or evening to avoid the water evaporating. And beware - over watering grass is bad news because it actually makes it less resilient to drought
Raise the height of cut in dry weather to avoid weakening the grasses and let the clippings fall back onto the lawn rather than collecting them.
They will act as mulch and slow down the evaporation of water from the soil surface. Make sure the clippings are small, or they will smother the grass and cause damage.
Water newly created lawns thoroughly – provided there are no hosepipe restrictions in force. For established lawns that must be kept green, water once the soil becomes dry, but before the grass colour changes. If the ground is very hard, aerate it by spiking with a garden fork before watering, to aid water penetration. Water the lawn in early morning, evening or even night-time, to reduce water Watering once every seven to 10 days is normally sufficient. It is important not to apply too much water. This is wasteful, encourages shallow rooting of the grass and promotes moss and turf diseases. Excessive watering makes the lawn less drought-tolerant in case of hosepipe bans or holidays when watering is discontinued.
What to do about a damaged lawn?
My advice is to wait until the autumn before making repairs to lawns and to delay lawn weed killer treatment on brown lawns until the following spring.
And finally, here's some more food for thought : "Ask yourself if you really need a closely-mown lawn.
"Why not let the grass grow longer and include meadow flowers and bulbs?