The longest, driest, hottest summer we’ve had in the UK for the last two generations has left many gardens in a sorry state. We are accustomed to rain showers every few days and even at the height of summer when it doesn’t rain for two or three weeks the erratic occasional watering is generally enough to ensure our gardens survive and continue to thrive. However unless you have a proper sprinkler and irrigation system in place it is more than likely that your lawn is looking pretty dead at the moment having turned turned a parched straw colour.
Do not despair – most lawn grasses can recover from drought conditions surprisingly well. I would recommend on days when it doesn’t rain you should try to put a sprinkler on your lawn for half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening. (Longer would be better but we have to conserve water even if the looming hosepipe ban has been called off for now!). It is not advisable to water your lawn in the midday heat because the sun will just burn off a lot of the water before the grass roots have had a chance to suck it up.
Do not mow your lawn – it is unlikely that it has grown much anyway in the drought conditions – you want the lawn to have the least disturbance possible until it starts showing signs of recovery. Together with regular watering you should also use a special lawn fertiliser which will further strengthen the grass and give it a better chance of recovering fully.
Once you’ve seen you lawn begin to come back to life as the weather cools down and rainfall increases, you will probably notice that there are patches which have not recovered and remain a dead thatch of straw like dried grass. Now it is time to mow your lawn to its usual height and then rake out the patches of dead grass thatch.
Once all the dead grass has been removed I would recommend you dress the patches with some top soil if possible as this will give your grass seed the best chance of fully propagating. Choose a good quality grass seed (if you know the seed mix you originally used for your lawn then use this to ensure uniformity), there are some packets of grass seed especially designed for fixing patches on a worn or dried out lawn. Remember to water the patches before scattering your grass seed.