A Guide to Sustainable Lawn Watering

As we approach the winter season, gardeners are gearing up for the unique challenges and opportunities that the colder weather brings. While the focus may shift from summer blooms to winter hardiness, one aspect remains constant: the importance of water conservation. As stewards of the land, it’s our responsibility to use this precious resource wisely, not only to sustain our gardens but also to protect the environment for future generations.

The Water Wise Team, in collaboration with Evergreen Turf Company (South Africa’s leading turf grower) and the University of South Africa are currently undertaking a comprehensive research study to analyse the water usage patterns of kikuyu grass (Cenchrus clandestinus Hochst. ex Chiov.), also known as Pennisetum clandestinum. This investigation involves the application of diverse watering regimes and treatments. The findings from this study will serve as a foundation for the Water Wise Team to develop tailored water conservation education and awareness campaigns focused on the optimal watering practices for kikuyu grass. The specific aim is to ensure that these campaigns are both pertinent and targeted, with the goal of minimizing water consumption in the irrigation of kikuyu grass.

Kikuyu grass stands as the predominant choice for lawns across South Africa. Originating from East Africa, it exhibits an aggressive growth pattern that can lead to invasiveness, potentially displacing indigenous grass species. Praised for its drought tolerance, affordability, and low maintenance requirements, kikuyu thrives in regions where many other grass varieties struggle. Nevertheless, it is acknowledged as one of the high-water use turf grasses, primarily attributable to human practices and preferences.

Dormancy in lawn

Dormancy refers to a period where growth of the grass temporarily slows down, and grass goes into a resting state for one season. Kikuyu always goes dormant during winter, where the grass will turn brown. However, brown kikuyu grass does not mean it is dead; it has simply gone dormant. Dormant kikuyu does not need to be watered. Lawn in a state of dormancy is simply ‘resting’ and conserving energy for the new growing season. Dormancy is a natural way for lawn to conserve moisture and nutrients in cold and dry seasons.

Water Wise watering for kikuyu

  • Reduce watering kikuyu when it is dormant.
  • Wait for the rains to start before awakening your kikuyu from its dormant state.
  • Newly installed kikuyu will only require more water during its establishment and settling period. Gradually decrease the frequency of watering after this phase.
  • In summer, water in the early morning (06h00) or late afternoon (18h00) as this reduces water lost to evaporation.
  • Use a trigger nozzle if watering kikuyu with a hose.

Water conservation is not just about saving money or reducing your water bill—it’s about preserving the earth’s most vital resource to ensure the sustainable availability to all living organisms. As we battle with climate patterns and increasing water scarcity, adopting sustainable practices in our gardens is more critical than ever.

By implementing simple yet effective water-saving techniques, gardeners can make a significant difference in their communities and beyond. An example of such endeavours involves integrating water conservation methods into your lawn care routine during the cooler season.


Image source: www.pennington.com

The Gardener