Summer can be a rough time for your lawn. From heat waves and prolonged drought, to sudden tropical storms, your garden’s biggest asset can be put under heavy stress, leaving it dried out, churned up, and generally in need of some TLC.
Fortunately, it’s still possible for your garden to flourish during the summer months—particularly with the right level of care. To keep your lawn in top shape when the heat hits, read on below for our best practice tips below.
Watering during the summer months
How much water your lawn needs during summer will depend on the type of soil you have, how many hours of sunlight it gets each day, and the temperature outside. The problem is, when there’s not enough rainfall, it can be a real challenge to provide your lawn with enough water—especially with Perth’s strict restrictions on watering days.
Most hobby gardeners are surprised to find out how much water their lawn needs to flourish, with 15 to 25 litres per square metre (per week) during summer being the rule of thumb. While lighter, dusty soil needs less water than clay-based soil, it’s still possible to over-water your lawn, which causes root or rot issues by displacing the air from the soil pores.
Here are some quick tips for watering your lawn during summer:
Once a week is enough: follow the ~20 litres per square meter rule we mentioned before, and remember, it’s better to give your lawn a good soak instead of a frequent, light watering.
Clay soil? Clay soil struggles to absorb large volumes of water in a short space of time. In this case, slowly watering over two days during the week allows more time for absorption.
Look for consistency: you want to make sure you water your lawn evenly. You can use a water meter for this, helping ensure your lawn isn’t left with dried out patches.
Pick your time of day: we recommend you water your lawn either first thing in the morning or late at night. Avoid watering during direct sunlight as this can cause burnt patches.
Plan for success: Growing trees, shrubs, or hedges around the lawn will increase the moisture levels in your lawn.
Too hot to handle: If you’re in the midst of a heatwave, water your lawn two to three times a week in the early morning hours or in the evening.
Monitor your lawn moisture levels
We mentioned using a moisture meter to keep an eye on your moisture levels. If you don’t have a water meter to hand, there are some DIY approaches you can try.
The most effective method is to use a spade to dig up a 10cm divot. The soil should be slightly damp, but not soaking wet at the bottom, while the top couple of centimetres should feel dry. If things are the other way around (your sample is dry at the bottom and moist at the top), the water isn’t reaching where it needs to.
Mowing during summer
We frequently get asked how long your lawn should be during the summer. Naturally, it’s the time of year the lawnmowers come out on a Sunday morning, with Dad’s across the country taking care of thick, lush growth after a fast spring growth period.
To get the best results, we recommend you mow your lawn every four to seven days at the start of summer. This will keep your lawn short enough, while encouraging a nice, dense growth as the grass blades will respond by forming new side shoots.
However, as summer rolls on and the temperatures rise, you might want to keep slightly longer grass to help retain moisture in your soil (and so the longer blades shade can each other). Typically, you want to keep your mowing height to roughly 4-5cm, and you shouldn’t cut more than a third of the length off at a time.
Fertilising your lawn in summer
By the time summer hits, the nutrients from spring fertilisation are pretty much used up. This makes summer an ideal time to re-fertilize your lawn, ensuring it’s getting enough nitrogen, magnesium, potassium, and calcium—keeping it in top shape to survive the warm weather and any flash storms.
We suggest you fertilise your lawn early in summer, November or December if possible, helping the soil ingest the nutrients before the harshest weather hits. It’s also better to use a sprinkler system rather than direct irrigation, and water the lawn generously.