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1 July 2010, ‘Brown lawns are cool’ – turf experts urge homeowners to hold back on watering established lawns

Turf experts are advising homeowners to avoid watering established lawns after the driest start to the summer in more than four decades put pressure on water supplies.

The Turfgrass Growers Association, whose members produce more than 70% of the turf grown in the British Isles, says that during hot weather, the watering of established lawns is, in most situations, wasteful and unnecessary.

"Our message to homeowners is not to worry if your lawn goes brown during the summer", says its Chief Executive, Tim Mudge. "Going brown is the natural survival mechanism of grass. When water is in short supply grass responds by shutting down. The brown colour shows that it has stopped growing until more favourable conditions return. Grass is remarkably resilient, and as long as you follow a few basic rules, most lawns will recover completely when the rain finally arrives."
  • Increase your mowing height to 35-40mm – this creates deeper roots and more shade and shelter from higher temperatures
  • Try not to concentrate wear in one place – move barbeques and toys like slides around
  • No need to feed as grass will not be growing during hot, dry weather
  • Avoid blanket weedkillers as these may damage the grass – use a spot weedkiller if necessary
  • Keep mower blades sharp as blunt blades bruise the grass leaf and it loses more water
  • Apply a light dressing of compost to help keep moisture in the soil and protect the grass from higher temperatures
  • Scarify your lawn once a year to remove matted and dead growth – if allowed to build up this acts as a barrier to rainfall
Tips for looking after established and newly-laid lawns during the summer are available from the from the association's website at www.turfgrass.co.uk.