Drought and hot, dry weather conditions can have an adverse effect on any garden the grass and plants will all suffer.
Drought is not a word to use too glibly in a global context, we are not trying to save world poverty like UNICEF or CAFOD, we just hope we can help you in the UK drought conditions to manage the landscape around you.
When you find yourself looking forward to sunny weather; spare a thought for the thirsty green matter in your garden; which will turn brown as it dries. There are some strategies to save gardens and landscapes or at least minimize the effects of a drought.
Water is lost from plants and gardens in two ways. The first is by the evaporation of water from the soil surface. The evaporation rate increases under hot, dry and/or windy conditions. As the soil surface dries, more water from deep within the soil may be drawn to the soil surface, where it also evaporates. The second way water is removed from soil by plants in a process called transpiration.
Most lawns grass species, which usually go dormant during the hot, dry weeks of summer and return to active growth in the autumn months. These lawns can be kept green and growing with proper watering, but in times of prolonged drought and limited water supplies, hose pipe bans etc. what can anyone do to help?
The best approach may be to let them remain dormant. The grass will go brown, but recover to be green when the weather changes, in Britain that could be sooner rather than later! When conditions improve and growth resumes, there are several recommendations that should be followed to help matters.
Mowing stresses the grass plants by increasing respiration and reducing root growth. Imagine cutting your finger, in the same place, before it has a chance to “heal” or “re-grow”; Grass is can take a longer time to recover in warm weather, only to be cut again. Consider spacing out more days in between cuts. As the illustration above shows; cutting less of each blade of grass by raising the cutting height allows the grass to promote deeper root growth and helps this recovery process.
Use a sharper blade to mow the grass.
This produces a cleaner cut that heals more quickly and loses less water. At this stage of the grass cutting season it is wise to assess blade sharpening anyway, but it may also be a good opportunity to let the grass grow. Spend the time sharpening a blade this week, and cut better next time.
Additional Preparations: Over seeding, Chemical treatments to fertilise or kill weeds, etc
To improve lawn density, overseed in spring months be careful to use the seed that will match in with the remainder of your lawn, if you can..
Any chemical treatments can have further environmental consequences; take a look at our pages about chemical treatments.
Here are some ideas we have mentioned before about water conservation:
The best way to protect other areas of your garden, such as ornamental plants, hedges and trees during periods of drought is by applying mulch. Better still using your own compost!