Although it has been raining for the past few days, and you probably won’t get out to do any yard work this week, it is a good idea to start thinking ab out what you can do to make your outdoor experience the best this year. Here are some tips to improve the look and health of your lawn;
Established lawns1 generally require about 2.5 cm (1 in.) of water per week to thrive.2 If Mother Nature is providing this amount of rainfall, your lawn will thrive without supplemental watering. When rainfall does not provide adequate moisture, your grass may start to turn brown. This does not mean it is dead — it’s simply dormant. An established lawn will recover and resume its green appearance shortly after sufficient rainfall returns.
Apply these tips to save water and money without compromising the health of your lawn:
- Apply about 2.5 cm (1 in.) of water not more than once per week and skip a week after a good rain. The correct amount can be estimated by placing an empty tuna can on your lawn as you apply water evenly across the surface. When the water level reaches the top of the can, you’ve applied about 2.5 cm (1 in.) of water which is all your lawn needs. You can time how long it takes to reach this level, then set the timer on your sprinkler.
- Water thoroughly. Deep watering at this rate is better than frequent, shallow watering because it encourages deep roots.
- Don’t water your lawn excessively. When it’s waterlogged, it may turn yellow and develop fungus and diseases. Oxygen and mineral uptake may be restricted on heavy clay soils. Too much watering can also lead to thatch and fertilizer leaching.
- Check with your municipality to see if watering restrictions are in effect.
- Avoid mowing and unnecessary traffic on your lawn when the lawn is dry or dormant.
- Don’t cut your lawn too short. Set the blade on your lawn mower to cut no lower than 6 to 8 cm (2.5 to 3 in.) so that the roots are shaded and better able to hold water.
- Aerate your lawn once a year in the early spring or fall to improve water penetration. Afterwards, top-dress by applying a thin layer (max. 15 mm — 0.6 in.) of organic material and rake to distribute evenly. You can overseed after this to help thicken the lawn.
- A thick, vigorous lawn is the best prevention against weed invasions and can better withstand heat and dryness. A healthy lawn needs nutrients, such as nitrogen. Application rates, sources and timing will depend on many factors including soil type. As a rule, a healthy lawn with good soil needs about ½ kg (1 lb.) of nitrogen per 100 sq. m. (1,075 sq. ft.) of lawn area every year. Leave grass clippings on the lawn to return nitrogen to the lawn, and reduce moisture loss.
1 Newly seeded or sodded lawns have greater water demands. 2 Actual water requirements depend on individual conditions, such as soil type.