By Mick O’Brien. Dip. Hort (MAIH) RH-101
While most lawns around the district are suffering from heat stress due to the current drought conditions that’s is affecting us this summer, there is still some beautifully hydrated green swards around that really demonstrate the commitment of some die-hard lawn enthusiasts out there. The irrigation needed to keep these lawns in tip top shape has to be applied regularly with the aim to thoroughly saturate the root zone with deep long watering cycles to assist in recovery from these dry hot summer days. It’s very difficult if you are relying on tank water or mains supply only, and one has to question the sustainability factor when faced with growing plants, food or lawns and paying the price for our water, but those who have a good source of bore water with a low salt concentration are advantaged indeed- in these conditions. On Bribie Island and surrounding districts, a lot of our topsoils are very sandy in structure which will not hold moisture for long, so regular watering is the key to keeping these lawns looking green and healthy, but the downfall is, the water disappears as quick as its applied as it percolates through the sandy soil profile.
You may of noticed that you have a lot of dead looking areas in your turf that standout predominantly before your next irrigation cycle as the soil dries out, and this can be confused with lawn grub damage sometimes, but may possibly be dry patch, which is when the soil surface has become hydrophobic (will not accept water) over time, and if that is the case, you can check this out by getting a watering can and shower a stream of water on the dry patch areas of concern to see if the water just pools in these areas and not infiltrate the topsoil, if its dry patch, then it might need a few applications of a soil wetter. (liquid detergent that breaks down the fine waxy coating which makes the soils hard to wet).
Its all about the timing!
With hydrophobic soils, there is a bit of a timing strategy that works for me, and as I am very busy working in my landscape gardening business, I do not have a lot of spare time to spend on my lawn as I would like, so when I cut my grass, I cut it slightly higher in the drought times and then irrigate immediately with a long deep soaking so it reduces stress and promotes good growth which in turn aids in its recovery, this process just sustains the lawn until its time for the next lawn cutting schedule and if there is dry patch, I scratch the dead grass (dethatch) with a rake first to clear the area before mowing and then apply the soil wetter the following day after the lawn cutting and irrigation, and this can be applied on these areas of concern- and in fact, the whole lawn if desired then thoroughly irrigate once again to really wet the soil. Sometimes these dead patches can be caused by old feeding of black beetle larvae which have been and gone as they do prefer the dryer soils when feeding but in regards to lawn grubs, they absolutely love the lush and healthy lawns to feed on, and are generally more of a problem in the rainy seasons but they will flourish and feed on well irrigated and manicured lawns that have been dutifully cared for over time. I personally prefer not to use insecticides on my lawns and opt for the repair with well- timed irrigation and lawn mowing strategies to alleviate adding extra stress to my patch as the excessive heat in a dry summer is surely stress enough. So then, may your lawn live long and prosper and don’t forget, keep your mower blades sharp; so you cut it- not bruise it!