Prioritize your lawn care
- Decide what areas you'd most like to be lush and limit your water use to these areas.
- If you have a patch of grass that isn't meant for display (i.e. a backyard play area), practice "survival irrigation"—6mm - 1.25cm (1/4in - 1/2in) of water every four weeks will ensure that the grass survives.
- Minimize foot traffic during drought to reduce turf damage.
Watering your lawn
- The best lawns need 2.5cm / 1in of water per week.
- Keep track of how much water your lawn is getting by setting out a small food tin to collect rain water and irrigation.
- Established lawns can go four to six weeks without water and not suffer long term damage.
- Don't worry if your lawn turns brown during dry periods. It's simply dormant and will recover with irrigation.
- Ensure the placement of your sprinkler waters your lawn, not your driveway or the street.
- Make sure the water you use for your lawn is absorbed. Try 20-minute intervals to allow for maximum absorption.
- Even if the surface soil is dry, there may still be moisture further down where the roots are. Use a soil probe (such as a screwdriver) to check moisture levels. If you can easily push the probe 10 - 15cm / 5 - 6in into the soil, you don't need to water.
Hoses and sprinklers
- Inspect your hoses and sprinklers regularly for leaks. If a certain area of your lawn seems especially green or overgrown, you may have a leak that needs your attention.
- Replace cracked hoses and clean nozzles regularly.
- Store hoses away from human and pet traffic to avoid damage.
- Manual sprinkler timers allow you to set the irrigation schedule based on need, rather than automatic timers that are preset based on time.
- If you use an automatic timer, make sure you reset it regularly as rainfall changes.
Preventing water loss
- Avoid watering your lawn when it's windy.
- Water your lawn in the early morning or late evening.
- The larger the sprinkler nozzle and the lower the water pressure, the more likely the drops will reach the plants without turning to vapour.
Deepen your roots
- Deep roots are happy roots.
- Did you know gradually decreasing the amount of watering you do encourages shallow grass roots to grow deeper? They'll become capable of living with less irrigation.
- Weed regularly, as weeds leave less water for your other plants.
- Rich soil holds water more efficiently than soil with clay or sand and encourages deep root growth.
- Use a slow-release fertilizer to encourage growth and reduce the need for large doses of water.
Mowing your lawn
- Cut less often and leave your grass a little longer than usual to maintain a robust root system. For example, Kentucky bluegrass mowed to 7cm / 3in will develop extensive roots that often reach 20 - 25cm / 8 - 10in into the ground.
- Increase grass height as summer turns to fall. Longer grass blades generate more energy to help the grass better survive winter.
- Sharpen your mower blades at least 3 times per year to reduce plant stress.
- Scatter soft grass clippings on your lawn. This will help replenish up to 40% of the applied nitrogen back to the lawn as the clippings break down. A mulching mower will help speed the breakdown of the clippings.
- Keep lawn thatch down to 1.25cm / 1/2in. To break down thatch, add a thin layer of loam in the spring