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With temperatures to hit a record 40 degrees this week in England and an Amber weather warning alert put in place by the Met Office, a hosepipe ban has been issued to help conserve water throughout the country. So, how can you care for your lawn when watering isn’t an option?
Hosepipe ban bounce back test
A quick way to find out how your grass is faring in hotter weather is to try the bounce-back test. When your lawn is yellow and looking worse for wear, it can be easy to think that it isn’t receiving enough water, but you might be pleasantly surprised! Step on your grass and then off again; if your grass ‘bounces back’, then even if it is yellow, it is maintaining enough water. If it stays flat, it needs to be watered – but how can you go about this?
Luckily, we get a fair amount of warning when warmer weather is on its way thanks to the Met Office, so if a hosepipe ban is imminent, now is a good time to adjust your watering routine.
UK lawns are strong and will usually bounce back after dry weather
Because we are blessed (or cursed!) with plenty of rain throughout the year, our lawns are remarkably good at bouncing back from drought conditions, so whilst yellowing grass and dryness may make you think you’ve lost the lawn you worked so hard on – when regular rainfall returns it will go back to normal in no time!
Water your lawn before the hosepipe ban strikes
To help your lawn adjust to dryer conditions and build resilience, you should aim to water it just before a hosepipe ban strikes and then water your lawn between 10-14 days apart. Watering infrequently and deeply helps your lawn to create a thirst for water and benefit it in the long run. Make sure that all areas that you water receive a good inch of water. Our droughts don’t last too long in the UK, so this method of watering should help get your lawn through the worst of it!
Keep your grass long
Letting your grass grow longer during hot weather will go a long way to helping keep it healthy. When your grass blades are longer, so are its roots, so they are much better at retaining moisture. Do not cut any lower than 4cm during a drought, and be prepared to miss a few mows during the hotter and dryer conditions. This applies whether you have a high traffic family lawn or fine lawn that doesn’t get much use!
Slow down the traffic
If you can’t water your lawn, another way to help it is to minimise traffic. This should be easier with a hosepipe ban, as you won’t be able to have any water fights, and paddling pools will be out of action!
Try and use your lawn less frequently
When your lawn gets used a lot, this compacts the soil and stresses the grass, which can contribute to yellowing and patchiness, so if you can, pull out the deck chairs and sit back and relax and give yourself (and your grass!) a break.
Have a water butt
Heatwaves and droughts are one of those times when those of us who have water butts are very smug! Water butts are a great way to conserve rainwater and help save on your water bills. Once installed, the butt will collect your rainwater (which we get a lot of!) that can then be reused to keep your grass and other plants in your garden hydrated when a hosepipe ban strikes.
No seeding, feeding, or de-weeding!
The best way to care for your lawn during dry and hot weather is to do very little! This means no seeding, feeding, or using weedkiller products.
Sow grass seeds in milder temperatures
Sowing grass seeds in temperatures of 20 degrees plus means that any watering you do (hose pipe or not!) will dry up extremely quickly. It is unlikely that sowing in these temperatures will produce successful results. Lawn food products will burn up in the sun and do more harm to your lawn than good; likewise, if you think the warm weather is a sign, you should tackle those weeds once and for all and set the weedkiller down!