With the one year anniversary of the Bundaberg floods, the 40 year anniversary of the ’74 floods (for those of us old enough to remember) and the possible formation of a cyclone off the Queensland coast later this week, our thoughts have turned to how to best care for our lawns in the aftermath of flooding.
While your garden may not be the highest on your list of priorities directly after a flood, a few timely actions will greatly improve the lawn’s recovery. When your lawn floods the oxygen essential for root respiration and the soil microbes are eliminated from the soil with as little as 24 hours of immersion compromising the root health and therefore the lawn above. Generally, most lawns can handle up to four days of submersion but all flooded lawns will require some attention afterwards.
Top tips for lawn recovery:
- Minimise all traffic to ensure the lawn does not suffer too much compaction;
- Allow the soil to drain naturally – working with wet soil is likely to cause long term damage and compaction;
- If the leaves of the grass plants are caked with silt, debris or mud, gently hose them down so they are able to function effectively;
- Replace any lost soil and cover up any exposed roots in order to create a more stable growing environment;
- Up to 20mm of silt or sediment can be gently raked and spread over the lawn;
- Over 20mm of silt or sediment will require additional work. Remove the excess before the surface forms a crust and limits air movement;
- Apply a light fertiliser in order to replace the nutrients take have been lost and to encourage regrowth;
- Conduct a pH soil test to determine if the flooding has caused the soil to become acidic. Depending on the reading, an application of lime or a seaweed formula could be effective when applied to the leaves and roots area at 2-4 week intervals until the levels of the soil have stabilised;
- Monitor the lawn for signs of stress – browning or yellowing of leaves or drooping;
- Also monitor for bacterial and fungal diseases which can take hold following flooding.
If your lawn doesn’t show signs of regeneration within a few weeks then you should consider re-establishing the lawn. Before installing a new lawn it is imperative that you completely remove the dead layer of lawn and thoroughly till and incorporate the surrounding soil to ensure new root growth and adequate air and water movement. Installing a new lawn quickly will protect against additional soil loss in any more bad weather. For more advice on installing a new lawn, contact the Daleys Turf team.
Additional note: After large amounts of rain you must remove all sources of standing water from around the yard to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes.