If the previous few years are anything to go by, we can expect extended periods of warmth and sunshine throughout the summer months. While it’s great for days out and working on your tan, it’s not the most nourishing for your lawn, as the extreme conditions can cause all kinds of problems for grass like browning, scorching, and even killing it outright!
Sometimes the issue is unavoidable as we are at the mercy of the weather, although there are some things that you can do to bring back dead grass in the summer.
How to Tell if Your Grass is Dead
During times of drought, the grass starts to brown before eventually dying off. When the grass is brown, it still has a chance at being revived as it is currently dormant, yet dead grass looks much the same so it’s sometimes hard to tell what condition your lawn is in.
A quick trick is to monitor it after it’s been watered – this could be from rain or watering yourself with a regular or expandable hose. A few inches of water are needed to revitalise dormant brown grass, which should kick back into life about a week after watering, whereas dead grass won’t show any signs of life after being watered.
Dealing with Dead Patches
If you are lucky and it is not all dead, you will still probably need to deal with thin and patchy spots, in which case there are a few things you can do:
- Adjust the blade height on your lawn mower to the highest setting – you want to keep grass height high until next spring
- Add a few treatments of lawn fertiliser before winter to help enrich the soil and encourage regrowth
- Aerate the lawn with a fork to allow rain to penetrate deeper into the soil
Don’t overlook these dead spots across your lawn. The temptation for many is to just wait for the lawn to repair itself once the summer rains arrive, but this will only make the recovery more difficult over the long term.
Patches are the perfect place for weeds and moss, so if you leave it untreated for long you can expect what’s left of the lawn to get worse.
Dealing with Weeds and Unwanted Grasses
Unfortunately, those dead patches may have encouraged unwanted weed grasses and weeds to develop in the lawn. You will want to remove these before you try to fix the lawn! The only effective way to deal with them is to dig them up and dispose of them, otherwise, they will grow back, taking up valuable space and nutrients from your grass
If you dig these up and find its left lots of massive spots, you can add some grass seeds to help cover the area. Just toss a handful of seeds and make sure to avoid using any weed killer as it will prevent them from germinating.
Preparing the Lawn for Seeds
To start the recovery process you need to scarify and aerate the lawn. You can use a rake as a scarifier and a fork to aerate or you can buy special equipment to make the job a bit easier, although avoid any hollow tine aerators as they may increase evaporation rates in the soil.
Basically, you rake away any dead material so there is just soil, and then spike with the fork. We are adding seeds and fertiliser next – they may need some help germinating though!
If you are still in the middle of drought then seed germination will be very difficult as moisture levels in the soil will be inadequate. You can address this by watering the lawn yourself, although bear in mind it will require extensive watering, usually around eight hours with a sprinkler.
Seeds need to be immersed in water for at least 24 hours to germinate, so watering just a few times a day after planting the seeds won’t cut it. So, watering the soil to ensure generation may take a few days depending on lawn size!
Here are some tips to help with this situation:
- Heavily water the area several days prior to planting seeds
- Add a layer of thin polythene over the soil to decrease evaporation
- Soak seeds in water for 24 hours before planting – this is only suitable for smaller patches due to difficulties spreading the wet seeds over a large area
Add some fertiliser or multi-purpose compost once you are confident the seeds have enough moisture!