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Lawn and turf care with minimal water

Charlie Muscat

Charlie Muscat

May 24, 2014

Well-kept lawns are inviting, multi-purpose assets within any built environment, helping cool the immediate surrounds of your residential or commercial property. One of the key elements in successfully maintaining your lawn and keep it in top shape year round is to water it effectively.

A well kept lawn cools your house

A well kept lawn cools your house

Arm yourself with the knowledge, first, to help you select the right lawn and prepare it appropriately and second, to water efficiently and you will be saving lots of time and money in the long term.

To minimise the water used in successful lawn care, it is important you factor the following elements into your selection process – local climate, soil types, lawn varieties, watering access, timing, amount of water used and of course, frequency.


Local Climate

Before investing in planting a lawn, it’s crucial to find out your chosen variety’s level of tolerance to your local climate and conditions. Most turf types today have been specifically developed to survive the longest, driest of Australian drought spells and recuperate to their former glory after being exposed to extreme temperatures.

However, in spite of their resilience to most prevailing conditions, when selecting a lawn you should factor in their level of tolerance to certain conditions at your location, like excessive shade, sun and likely wear, as well as being prone to frost or drought.

Overall, though, today’s varieties have been designed to recover naturally from any short-term setbacks and thrive again as part of their seasonal cycle.

Active Turf ArticleDIY water-testing

If you are unsure of the type of soil on your property or its level of moisture penetration, there are simple and accurate tests you can apply. You can go for the soil moisture probe, as used by the serious lawn enthusiasts and landscape gardeners, or you can rely on the good old screwdriver to determine your soil’s level of moisture penetration.

Push the screwdriver into your soil and if it reaches a depth of 15cm to 20cm beneath the surface, you are blessed with a good foundation for receiving and retaining lawn moisture in the event of a good downfall of rain or a deep soaking.

Generally, a soft soil depth indicates good predisposition to water penetration, while resistance at a shallower depth is a sign of compacted, dry soil too close to the surface and a lack of water penetration for healthy turf. In this case, your soil will need treating prior to laying turf, or you may need to consider the hardiest of varieties for your location.

Types of Lawn

Low rainfall and the rising price of water in many Australian cities are two deterrents for many home owners, when it comes to choosing between turfs or pavers.

The good news is that there are many ways to get around the prohibitive water prices and minimise water usage when caring for your lawn. In fact, as earlier mentioned, many lawn varieties today are drought-tolerant and they even come with official water ratings to alert you in advance to their moisture requirements over time.

Santa Ana couch

Santa Ana couch

Look for turf varieties graded with five-star-ratings (the highest available) for minimum low water needs – Kikuyu and Sir Walter Buffalo are your best bets. With a four-star water-rating, Santa Ana Couch is your next best option.



Anything graded under four starts will demand more water. However, you can easily get around their need for higher water levels if you leave in a region blessed with a high rainfall, especially in summer, or if you’ve previously invested in rain water tanks or other water recycling systems.

Watering frequency

Most people still find it hard to believe that less frequent deep watering is the best way to keep a lawn healthy over the long-term, as well as a smart way to reduce your footprint on the environment and save you considerable amounts of cash on water bills. In fact, overwatering your lawn is a total waste of time and should be avoided at all costs.

An occasional soaking for a long time is much better for your turf’s general health than regular, shallow watering as the heavier watering drives the water deep into the soil. This encourages a stronger and deeper root system that will be better prepared to face dry spells and even drought.

Watch your turf carefully and water accordingly if you notice that is wilting, yellowing or turning dry particularly in summer or if you can’t feel any springing back when you walk on it. And if you’re still not sure about watering, try the screwdriver test before turning your hose or sprinkler system on or talk to your lawn specialist.

thumbWater timing and quantity

Another point of contention is watering time – when is the most effective time of the day to water your turf?

The answer is simple – early morning. As hard as it might be for you to get out of bed to give your turf the TLC it needs, watering your turf in the early hours of the morning helps prevent moisture loss through evaporation. Not only that, it also helps reduce the chance of fungal disease which, typically develops when night falls soon after watering.

What about quantity? How much water is too much water for your turf?

Knowing how much water you are using on your lawn is important to ensure sufficient moisture and prevent waste from over-watering. So, to make the most of your early morning watering session, water your lawn enough to soak the root zone on each occasion. You’ll be very pleased with the results.

Lawns and Fertilisers

Fertilisers are only needed to prevent your lawn from succumbing to an undesirable weed infestation. Your turf and landscaping professional is the perfect person to recommend the appropriate range of safe, sustainable products to assist you in preventing weeds from appearing. However, as a rule of thumb, if lawn moisture is maintained as your lawn variety demands, the healthier your lawn will be, keeping weeds out, naturally.

Overall, the above tips will ensure your turf boasts the health and shine you were looking for, minimising your expenditure and your environmental footprint. Follow these tips and everyone will be a winner.

[This is a sponsored post from Active Turf]

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