Caring For Your Turf After Flooding
Especially in 2022, the east coast of Australia has been battling devastating flooding causing sometimes irreversible damage to properties, livestock, and agriculture. However, since flood damage is becoming a more prevalent issue for everyday Australians, we must all be aware of how to recover damage from flooding safely.
Specifically, many homeowners will have turf damage to their lawns after extended periods of flooding or flooding multiple times over a short period. There are two types of lawn-based damage caused by flooding. First, direct damage occurs when your lawn is submerged in water for an extended period causing your turf to die due to a lack of oxygen. If the turf has been engulfed for more than a week, the grass has a low chance of survival, particularly if heavy sediment has coated the grass and high temperatures arise.
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On the other hand, for properties with less severe flooding, your turf is more likely to have secondary damage, where sediment build-up caused by the flooding leads to algae, moss growth, fungal diseases, and an invasion of weeds.
So, as we ease out of the flood season on the East Coast, here are some expert tactics you can do to get your lawn back up to the usual standard you’re proud of.
1. Dispose of Any Debris Sitting on top of the Turf
Once it is safe to walk across your lawn, you want to assess the extent of the damage and then begin the process of removing debris from the surface. While both organic and manmade matter poses a risk to the people and animals walking on the turf, it’s important to remember that grass is a living plant, so any object sitting on top of the surface will smother the grass and prevent the grass from coming back to life.
During this step, you should also assess the location of any inadequate spots in your drainage system. For example, if there are patches of water pooling on top of the grass, toss shredded mulch to soak up the surplus moisture.
2. Remove Excess Soil and Sediment
After removing all the large debris, it’s time to focus on the extra soil, clay, and sediment likely scattered in large clumps over the lawn. While you may be tempted to get the job done quickly by raking over the entirety of your lawn, leaving the sediment in your lawn can lead to severe soil layering problems and can even kill the grass.
Since sand and sediment do not possess any organic material, their presence will not help your grass recover and grow; therefore, you must remove any extra silt from your turf. The best time to remove this excess is when there is still moisture in the soil, as once the sediment has dried, a crust will form, making it impossible to remove without destroying the turf.
3. Help Your Turf Breath through Aeration Methods
Now your turf should be clear from any organic and manmade contaminants that the flooding has likely brought over to your lawn. Now, you can start working on rehabilitation, and one of the best methods is aeration.
However, before beginning any aeration method, it is essential to wait a couple of days or possibly even a couple of weeks for your lawn to dry out to prevent compaction.
You can choose to aerate your lawn manually with a garden fork or hire a power aerator from your local garden centre. The purpose of aeration is to create “breathing” holes for the soil to dry out, which overall helps to improve the structure and oxygen levels of the soil, as well as break up any residual soil or silt deposits.
4. Encourage Lawn Repair with a High-Quality Fertiliser
Heavy rain and flooding can drain away all your turf’s vital nutrients the plant needs to survive. As a solution, fertilising your turf can offer a much-needed infiltration of nutrients to help your lawn thrive. The best time to fertilise is immediately after you aerate your lawn.
For the best results, speak to your local lawn care experts, as they can advise what fertiliser will work best for the kind of grass you have. You should continue applying fertiliser to your lawn even after your turf starts to recover to ensure that it reconstructs large healthy roots.
5. Looking Ahead…
Observe your lawn carefully over the following weeks after flooding subsides to determine the health of the turf. After a few weeks, you’ll be able to tell if you need a new lawn or if you can fix different parts by reseeding or applying fresh sod.
Generally, if you see more than half your lawn is recovering, you may be able to reseed the bare areas. However, if less than half of your yard has recovered, it would be more economical to undergo a complete relaying of your lawn.
While replacing the entire lawn is your worst-case scenario, getting a new turf also has its benefits. As it’s an excellent opportunity to test and enhance your soil’s pH levels, add in any organic remedies, try out a new type of turf variety and administer an organic starter fertiliser.
Should I Water My Lawn After a Flood?
If your turf has been damaged from any sort of flooding, you may be scared to water your lawn ever again. But particularly if you have reseeded some areas of your lawn, a routine watering schedule is essential to long-term health.
Most importantly, make sure you water just in the morning or evening and ensure to water long enough for the water to soak below the root to encourage root growth. Weak grass and weeds might result from insufficient watering. But, on the other hand, ensure you are not overwatering, as excess water can wash away nutrients and even attract insects, so deep watering is preferable to mild watering for your turf.
Help Your Lawn Recover Today!
There is no doubt that floods are harmful to your lawn. Having to clean up the mess and possibly even revamp your entire landscape is nobody’s idea of fun.
Unsure of how to care for your lawn after heavy, continuous rain or flooding? Speak to your local turf suppliers, and they can recommend the suitable turf supplies Sydney. With a bit of hard work and preparation, you will be able to run barefoot through your newly recovered lawn in no time.