Seasonal Lawn Care

Lawn Care Tips for February


Care for lawns during periods of extreme heat.

When a plant, irrespective of whether it is your prize pelagonium, or just a single grass plant in a lawn, suffers heat stress, many of the fine hair roots fall away from the root system. This is the plant’s normal response to stress, when biological functions shut down and leaves begin to wilt. It takes a long time for the plant to recover from this kind of stress. Growth tends to be weak and spindly because those fine roots that account for much of the root system surface area have been lost. We see this in hydrangeas, in fuchsias, and in turf grasses that receive a daily sprinkle rather than deep watering. The shallow root zone is unable to cope with extra demands for soil moisture.

The only way that the plant will recover is to keep the soil temperature down to the optimum for that plant where maximum growth will occur and by maintaining humidity about the leaf zone.

While kikuyu grows best in temperatures from 15C to 30C, a protracted spell of hot weather over 35C will allow soil temperature to build up and force the plant into dormancy. The best management practice is not to let the soil temperatures rise above a critical 32C by thoroughly irrigating when the weather forecasters first predict a heat wave, four or five days before the heat occurs.

While we can’t control Nature’s heat, we can lessen the effects of heat stress by temporarily raising the mowing height to provide a denser canopy over the soil surface. Turfgrass that is under drought stress should be carefully maintained. It is best to raise the height of cut and not mow during the heat of the day. Rotary blades should be kept sharpened.

You may be questioning the wisdom of continuing to maintain a lawn given the recent increases in the price of water. Remember, some of the environmental benefits of lawns include lowering the temperature of the surrounding environment. This can result in a direct saving in air-conditioning costs. Also, a well-maintained lawn can increase the value of a property by up to $15,000.

Seasonal Lawn Care

Lawn Care Tips for January


Watering Lawns

For most of us, it’s the cheapest and most beneficial thing you can do to our lawn. However, watering is the most misunderstood factor in a lawn maintenance routine. The goal of irrigating your lawn is very simple: to replace the moisture that is being lost due to evaporation. Any more or any less will cause the lawn to suffer in times of stress. Generally, given our weather patterns, it is not necessary to irrigate the lawn on a regular basis until October or November.

How much?

The technique of determining how much to water your lawn is simple: Place a small rain gauge or jam tin on the lawn when your sprinkler is running and see how many minutes it takes to fill the gauge to a level of 25mm. Then, over a period of days, see how long it takes for the 25mm of water to evaporate out of the gauge. This will tell you when and how much to water. You may be surprised!


The time of day makes a difference. One basic rule: water your lawn when the least amount of water will be lost to evaporation. Watering early in the morning before the heat of the day will make sure your water goes down to the roots instead of going up in vapour. Avoid watering during the middle of the day when the heat is highest. Never water late in the afternoon or before midnight as warm evening temperatures will promote turf diseases such as mildew.

How often?

Be sure to follow the “25 millimetre” guide described above. Frequent, but shallow, watering causes the grass to send roots up to the surface looking for water, where they will suffer more during hot spells. Water longer in each spot. Also be sure to water more along paths and kerbs. These areas dry out faster due to more heat build up.