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The Brown, Brown Grass of Home

Carol Klein, as reported in the Daily Telegraph today, suggests that with a changing climate, Britain’s gardeners should move away from lawns to “working with the weather, culturing mosses and ferns”.

The benefits of grass are so huge in terms of sheer relaxation and stress reduction (proven when walking on grass barefoot), to say nothing of  its properties of cooling and storm water attenuation, that to cast it aside in the general hysteria about hot, dry periods is very shortsighted.

As yet another dry month for those us in the East and South East has drawn to a close, what lessons can be learned as we try to keep our precious patch of lawn green and alive.

Firstly, there is still the watering option.  In the Environment Agency’s latest water status update, they state that no water companies have a hosepipe and sprinkler ban in place.  Water is becoming more expensive and we all have a duty to use it responsibly.  Sprinklers are best put on in the evening when the risk of loss through evaporation is much lower.  There is no point in overwatering – all that does is encourage reliance on surface applied water and discourages deep rooting.

Secondly, reduce the frequency of mowing and bring up the height of cut.  Mowing is stressful to the grass plant if it is not growing fast and we need to do everything to reduce avoidable stress.

Thirdly, there is no point applying fertilisers if the grass is not growing and taking it up.  Scorch could result which is another avoidable stress.

If periods of drought are going to become the norm as a symptom of climate change, longer term thinking is needed, and either or both of the two following options should be considered:

What are your experiences of keeping lawns alive through the recent dry period, and how are you adapting to climate change?