Looking After Your Lawn During a Hosepipe Ban

Dry grass lawn

How to take care of your lawn under drought conditions or a hosepipe ban

It is not always possible to water lawns and grassed areas during dry spells and drought conditions, especially if there is a hosepipe ban in your area. However do not despair, even if the grass dries out and develops brown patches, it is a very durable plant and can fully recover again when rain eventually falls.

There are a number of things you can do to protect the lawn in dry conditions:

  • Keep off the grass. In dry conditions the grass grows very slowly, so try not to walk on the lawn to prevent erosion, soil compaction and damage to the grasses.
  • Never scalp the lawn or cut it too short. It is best to heighten the mower blades by an inch (2.5 cm) in dry conditions.
  • Leave a light sprinkling of grass clippings on the lawn to act as a mulch and keep precious moisture in. However, when it does eventually rain, it is best to rake any clippings off to allow moisture to penetrate down to the roots.

If you are on a water meter then carrying out the above measures will also help you to save money. However if you really need to water then consider recycling grey water from bathing of from the kitchen sink (once it has cooled down). A weak solution of soap in the water should have very little affect on plants in the garden, if used occasionally, however do not use water that has strong detergents or chemicals in it.

Newly laid lawns and very fine grass will need some watering, in which case water the lawn in the evening so that less water evaporates and more is allowed to penetrate deeper into the soil. It is much better to water the lawn thoroughly, once a week, for a prolonged period, rather than short spells of light watering. If you have a hosepipe ban in your area then you will need to apply water with a watering can.

Lightly watering is actually worse for the lawn as the roots of the grass will stay near the surface and suffer more. To encourage deep rooting, you need to ensure that the ground is well soaked to a depth of at least 6 in (15cm). To ensure sufficient watering, place dishes on the lawn during watering to gauge the amount of water applied, and ensure that no less than 1 cm water is applied evenly over the lawn.

Increasing the Drought Resistance of Lawns

To prevent your lawn suffering badly during drought or a hosepipe ban, you need to create a deep and vigorous root system so that the lawn can take advantage of what little moisture there is in the ground.
  • Remove any thatch from the lawn in the autumn by scarifying.
  • Spike the turf in autumn to prevent compaction and top dress after spiking with a sand and compost mixture.
  • Feed the lawn with a phosphate based fertilizer at least once a year to help encourage good root growth.

Planting a Drought Resistant Lawn

If you live in an area that has constant or regular hosepipe bans it may be worth considering replacing the lawn with a drought tolerant grass mixture. This is best done in the Autumn so that the new lawn has chance to become established before the dry season starts again.

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