Keeping your lawn looking lush can take a bit of a green thumb, especially during those hot Aussie summers. Like any plant, your lawn needs some TLC to survive and thrive. But knowing exactly what your grass needs and when can take a little bit of experience and knowledge. So let’s have a look at some of the top tips for lawn maintenance.
Water at the right time
The best time to water the lawn is in the morning before the heat of the day sets in. Mornings tend to be cooler and the winds calmer, which allows the water to soak into the soil to be taken in by the grass roots, rather than simply evaporating. Because the grass also needs sunlight to grow, watering in the morning gives the grass plenty of daylight to drive photosynthesis, allowing the grass to make the best use of the water.
You can also water in the late evening once the heat of the day has passed to avoid losing water to evaporation. However, that means the lawn has less light to make use of. Over-watering the lawn just before nightfall means the grass could stay soggy all night, which can increase the risk of lawn diseases.
Water the right amount
Water is a precious resource everywhere, but especially in Australia. So we don’t want to be wasting unnecessary water on the lawn. Over-watering your lawn means that it will only develop a shallow root system that is dependent on surface water. Ideally, you want the lawn to develop a deep root system that will extract the moisture stored beneath the surface. This will create a tougher lawn that will survive on less watering.
Aim to water your lawn once to twice a week (maybe three times during hot weather), giving it a deep soak rather than just a surface spray. This allows the water to soak into the soil, training the roots to follow it down.
Properly mow the lawn
Over-mowing the lawn or cutting the blades too short will dry out the lawn and hinder its survival through the hot summer months. When it’s warm, raise the mower height and try to keep as much length to the grass blades as possible. This will help the lawn to retain moisture and protect the roots from drying out.
Longer blades also help to prevent weeds from taking hold by crowding out the weed seeds and blocking out the sun. Try to resist the urge to get carried away with the lawn mowing.
Aerate the lawn
Your lawn needs oxygen to survive. Periodically aerating the lawn brevents the soil from compacting and means the roots get the air they need to thrive. A properly aerated lawn will also better absorb water. The easiest way to aerate a lawn is to push a pitchfork into the soil at 25cm-30cm intervals. However, if you have a large lawn area, it may be easier to hire an aerating machine or bring in a garden services company to do the work for you.
Fertilise the lawn
As the lawn grows, it extracts nutrients from the soil. Over time, these nutrients will deplete and need to be replenished. Lawn fertilisers will return these essential nutrients to the soil and help the grass to thrive. The manufacturer’s instructions on the fertiliser will tell you how often and what time of year is best to apply.
If possible, you want to avoid using weed killers on your garden. These products can have harsh chemicals, and it’s always good to minimise the amount of chemicals you’re putting into your garden. It’s better to get onto the weeds early and often to prevent them from taking hold, rather than rely on weed killers to kill established weeds. Remove the weeds by hand or with a handheld weeder.
Maintaining a healthy lawn can take a bit of practice. However, once you know what to do you can keep it lush and green all year round.