Joe Rogers, lawn expert and technical manager at Lawn Solutions Australia, shares his top tips for keeping your lawn healthy and lustrous throughout the party season.
Prep in advance
Most people will make the effort to tidy up their home and backyard before a party, but they won’t necessarily prep their lawns. If you want your lawn to look its best both during and after your alfresco celebrations, it’s vital to put in a bit of prep work beforehand.
Establish the right routine
A few days prior to your party, give your lawn a thorough going-over – mow, weed and fertilise as required. In summer, you should be watering weekly and fertilising every eight to 10 weeks.
Be sure to water deeply as this allows the water to really penetrate the soil, which encourages the roots to grow deeper. This in turn helps your lawn survive dry periods as it can access water deep in the soil. If your lawn starts to take on a yellow or brown appearance, this is a sign that it’s not receiving enough water.
Tip: If you’re unsure whether you’re watering the right amount, try this trick – hang a soaking wet towel over the fence whenever you irrigate. When the towel is completely dry, your lawn needs another watering.
You should also aerate every three months in the high-traffic parts of your garden, such as the path to the barbecue or clothesline. If your garden is small, aeration shoes or a garden fork will do the job. For bigger lawns, hire a large aerator or corer (they’re surprisingly simple to use).
What to do if your lawn is in bad shape
If your lawn is patchy or uneven and you’re still about three weeks out from your party, there’s time to bring it back to good health. Apply a top dressing of very sandy soil, then fertilise and irrigate well. Be careful not to completely cover the grass with the top dressing as this will prevent blades from reaching the sunlight.
Or if you’re short on time, you could simply pick up a few rolls of turf and patch the areas up. Easy, quick and cheap!
Top tips for a perfect lawn on the day
Avoid mowing the grass just before the party – a little extra length will provide more cushioning for the soil and will feel softer under your guests’ feet. A day or two ahead of time is perfect. Impress your guests with a stylish, patterned lawn. It’s easy to do – simply mow in alternate directions.
Be sure to pick up your clippings afterwards to get that pristine look. If you need to water your grass on the day of the party, make sure you give it ample time to dry as heavy foot traffic plus wet grass can result in a muddy mess underfoot. On the day of the party, blow away leaves and debris with a leaf blower, if you’re a leaf blower kind of person.
Spread the party out
Frequent use of certain areas of your lawn can lead to browning and compaction. This is caused by having your guests, animals and outdoor furniture all situated in the one place. It might seem obvious, but spreading the party out across your backyard will mean that all parts of your lawn will absorb the impact, which will minimise the chance of compaction.
Keep pets away
Although pets can add to the fun at parties, they can also create holes, bad smells and discoloration of your lawn from their urine. Reduce this by keeping them off the lawn during busy times. Alternatively, lay out a blanket or mat on a designated area so that they can still roam freely without causing damage to your lawn.
Keep it clean
Rubbish, spilt drinks or dropped food are common fallout of a good party. Depending on what you’re serving, these can upset your lawn’s pH balance and cause discoloration or patching. Rectify this by picking up any waste as soon as you see it. For spilt alcohol or soft drinks, a quick water with the hose (or 10 minutes with the sprinkler) to dilute any harmful chemicals will reduce the chance of damage to your lawn.
When the party’s over, check the health of your grass. Rake up leaves or litter. Aerate the area, particularly parts of the lawn where there has been a lot of footfall, to prevent compaction. Fertilise and irrigate.