The summer of 2018 was record-breaking in terms of heat and drought. Many a garden owner has noticed that such summers leave their mark on the plant world: Withered meadows and scorched lawns no longer present themselves in lush green, but in yellow-brown tones. Trees and shrubs let their leaves droop, discolour them prematurely or drop them already.
Therapy plan for burnt green: First aid for the lawn
Can the withered meadow be saved or revived? Basically, you can help green spaces with heat damage to become healthy again. Green stalks should become visible within two weeks of “starting therapy”. The be-all and end-all of a successful therapy is: plenty of water! You should start watering thoroughly as soon as possible. The roots need a lot of liquid to recover. The area should therefore be watered every evening shortly before sunset on dry days. Watering during the day makes little sense because then a lot of water evaporates before it reaches the roots.
Lawn and meadow cure after heat damage: What to consider when fertilising
At the same time, the weakened roots now need fertiliser. Too much fertiliser can also cause damage. A mild organic liquid fertiliser such as nettle, dandelion or comfrey liquid manure would be wonderful. Dilute the liquid manure 1:10 and spray it over the burnt green area once in the evening.
As an alternative to the liquid manure, you can make compost water by stirring ready-made compost into water. Pour about 15-20 litres of water over two litres of compost, stir well from time to time and sieve after 6 hours. Then the water enriched with microorganisms is diluted 1:2 and sprayed over the green area. Stir some wood ash or stone dust into the slurry or compost water, because potassium (K) makes the plants more resistant to drought, cold and diseases, among other things.
If you do not want to use slurry or compost water, you can sparingly apply an organic lawn fertiliser to the lawn, which will then be absorbed into the soil when you water the lawn in the evening.
If there is no improvement after two weeks of regularly adding moisture, the only option is a major renovation. To do this, use a scarifier to remove the dried grasses and plants and sow new lawn or meadow mixtures in the affected areas.
How to prevent heat damage to lawns and meadows
Long-lasting periods of drought and heat are likely to become more frequent in the coming summers due to climate change. Therefore, it is important to know tips and tricks to avoid scorched green areas in the future:
In summer temperatures, you should not neglect watering your garden. Grasses in particular are already thirsty for water after a few days. If you don’t react now, it is hardly possible to prevent dry spots from appearing on the greenery. So it makes sense to water the greenery thoroughly and evenly every 1-2 days during such periods.
However, it is not only heat and a lack of water that damage the lawn, but also incorrect watering. If the grass is sprayed wet during the midday heat, the drops create a burning glass effect and the blades are permanently damaged.
Mowing too often and too short during the heat stress phase also increases the risk of the blades burning. Furthermore, it makes no sense to mow in the midday heat, as the cuttings then burn extremely quickly and turn brown. If the heat is constant, the mower should stay in the shed. If there is no other way, mow as shallowly as possible. It is then important not to mow with blunt but with very sharp blades.
Too much fertiliser can also cause damage, as many grass varieties burn much more quickly when overfertilised.
Measures to prevent trees from becoming distressed
Although trees and shrubs have deeper root systems than lawn and meadow grasses, they also run the risk of heat damage during long dry spells. This is because trees evaporate an incredible amount of water through their foliage on hot summer days. When the leaves become limp or even discoloured, it is high time to water. Fruit-bearing trees in particular need a lot of water to supply the fruit. Otherwise they will drop prematurely. During dry periods you should therefore water the root zone twice a week. A tree needs 30-40 litres per watering. As with the lawn, it also makes sense to water in the evening!