Where do you REALLY need that precious water?

Yes – this is another rant on the topic of watering lawns, and no apologies for that. But don’t get me wrong – I have every sympathy for the proud gardener who watches anxiously as the lovely green lawn begins to dry and suspicions of brown patches begin to appear. I really do. But I also have sympathy for the whole garden environment and for all the wonderful things that nature provides to maintain it.

The problem is that one of these wonderful things – water – is a precious resource, not to be wasted without good reason. And watering you lawn is rarely a good enough reason.

The problem is this; grass is one of our most misunderstood garden plants. We expect it to perform 100% 365 days a year – green, healthy, lush and thick. After all, “it’s only grass – simple plant, just needs to keep growing…”. Well, in a way that’s right; grass is one of our oldest plants and thrives in its various forms throughout the world.

But that’s because it is so resilient and adaptable – two very good reasons why you don’t need to go into frantic watering mode every time the summer sun pops out.

I blame our summer sports, not our worried gardeners. Take Wimbledon; we see the beautiful grass courts in the glorious summer sunshine and assume our own lawns must look the same. Well, the tennis courts don’t remain green just because of the watering – let’s not forget the thousands of hours of careful attention they receive throughout the year! No, the reason it is watered so much in mid-summer is to keep the grass fresh and springy for the players. After all, it’s called ‘lawn tennis’ for a reason!

So, dismiss images of pristine tennis courts from your mind, and turn it instead to your entire garden. In mid-summer there will be some plants that cannot survive without some additional watering – your vegetables, some of the delicate border plants, etc – so use your water for them. They need it, and they’ll thank you with a superb display and tasty produce.

“But what about my lawn that is slowly turning brown???”

Don’t panic! In hot, dry weather, grass is pre-programmed to go into shut-down mode. It’s normal and perfectly healthy. As soon as the autumn rains appear and the thermometer begins to descend, the green colour miraculously returns. In fact, a little part of me almost enjoys this as it reminds me never to take a lawn for granted.

Of course you can water your lawn if you need to. Perhaps you have an annual garden party or an open-garden day to prepare for? But remember that water is very precious, and by watering in the cool evening you will waste much less of it through evaporation.

However, better still is to take note of this year’s dry patches as a warning to take special care of the grass during the rest of the year. The stronger and healthier it is before the summer heat arrives, the better it can withstand it and maintain just enough green to offset the rest of your beautiful garden.

Then, when all the flowers and fruits have gone and the trees are losing their leaves, and your lawn is full and lush once more, that is the time to celebrate the wonderful green carpet that keeps your garden alive in even the dullest of months.

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