In my simple quest to establish a lawn, I discovered that the more I get answers, the more questions arise, I started this document as a guide for people looking to establish healthy lawns in Kuwait. It is a work in progress and I encourage anyone with an addition or correction to please feel free to add their 2 fils. Grass lawns are a science in and by themselves, when I look at a lawn; I see care, maintenance, risks, knowledge and sustainability. In the low desert, where the Kuwait is located, and because of our extreme temperatures, it is especially important to know how to properly choose and water your lawn.
My two objectives:
- Maintaining a nice, healthy green lawn, under Kuwait summer and winter
- conserve water.
In order to achieve them, a healthy lawn with a deep root system is required. Our winters are delight to grasses except on odd chances of low digit temperatures. A couple of days won’t hurt, although extended period effect warm grasses negatively. (Not enough to do irreparable damage)
Overview of Grass Types:
There are many species found naturally and some crossed for genetic traits. Grasses are classified as warm or cool season grasses.
As the classification implies,
- warm grasses grow in the warm season and yellow/get stunted in cool weather many not withstanding subzero temperatures.
- Cool grasses are the opposite, their growth stunts in hot weather and they yellow but flourish in the cool season. The main difference is color, textures and spreading traits. Warm grasses are less vibrant and coarser in texture than their cousins although recent developments of new strains proved this concept very wrong.
Seeded or Sodded ( sod is a pre-grown lawn cut into squares) ????
Seeds and Seeding:
Seeding a lawn is a labor intensive endeavor if you want a uniform lawn. If you are not willing to put in the effort although no guarantees even if you did, you will have a mixed grass weed lawn that is pleasing to the untrained eye but not the professional. In the end the choice is yours as its beauty is in the eyes of its owner. Some like unnatural perfection while others are bohemians and love the collage of color shades and leaf shape differences. Seeding a lawn from scratch needs an article by itself, I will hopefully get into it in the future. For now, I will describe what is available based on my humble flawed research. Seeds Available from American Department stores are mostly cool season grasses ( fescues,, blue grasses, rye grasses among others), they can be over seeded in fall on an unhealthy lawn and give life back but is temporary, they will not survive the summer but will regrow the following season. Bermuda seeds are also available from agricultural shops and it’s a warm season grass.
SODS ( pre planted grass)
One of the issues we face is getting information, for some odd reason, the Kuwaiti market likes to associate grasses with country as you will see by the names below. That makes it hard to know what you are buying and to tap into the infinite resources available about that specific grass.
Grasses available in Kuwait.
The standard “Australian” grass ( Paspalum spp. )
Available in the nurseries is a warm season grass. It is heat tolerant, fast grower with somewhat coarse texture. Tried and tested, Susceptible to thatch where it grows so tightly it chokes itself. Aerating the lawn prevents this, pushing spikes into the ground to decompact soil, Usually done with a shoe that has nail on the underside.
The one Called “American” Grass. ( bermuda spp.)
It is a Bermuda grass that is heat tolerant, lighter green in color and spreads by rhizomes. I like to think of it a Star spreader. It is special requested from farms and comes double the price of the Australian grass. Also a fast grower and susceptible to thatch.
Last but not least, Chinese or Japanese grass ( Zoysia Spp.)
is a Zoysia strain. It is velvety to the touch, heat resistant with incredibly slow growth so it is less maintenance and take longer to establish. Since it is very hard to start from seed and establish, it comes in plugs. It is sold planted in round pots. You have probably seen lawns usually small that have many small hills. The reason is that the plugs sold are big and once planted are irregularly shaped giving that puffy look. In order for a Zoysia lawn to be straight, smaller and more numerous plugs are required. Unfortunately I have not come across small plugs.
It may be tempting to water your lawn every day more than once in the hottest part of the summer, but that really isn't necessary if you plan your watering and gradually increase the drought tolerance of your grass. Watering little and frequently might make sense but it is counter productive. For a strong lawn, a deep root system is encouraged, so if you water many times a day your grass will not feel the need to dig deeper for water and hence be very sensitive to water shortage as the roots are shallow. If your cycle of water is broken it will quickly dry and wither. This is called drought resistance. The ability to survive longer on less water.
There are many sources with great information to assist us with knowing how much to water the grass and how often.
Efficient Lawn Watering in Kuwait's Desert
- Know how much water your grass needs.
- Lawns differ in many aspects, newly established, established incorrectly and established lawns.
- Your grass will be healthiest if the roots of the grass receive water every time you water.
- To Train your roots to Go deeper, water deeply and gradually increase the time between watering forcing the grass to dig deeper. ( a fertilizer containing high N P and K is required at this time as you want root growth not only green growth)
- Watering to a depth of 25 cm approx is best. But please gradually decrease watering while being vigilant in order to make sure the roots are deep. Deep watering a shallow root lawn does nothing as the grass will not be able to reach the water.
- You can use a soil probe, or a long screwdriver/bamboo skewer to test the soil. About one hour after you have watered, push in the soil probe as far as it will go in easily. Did it go in 25 cm? If not, you'll need to water longer until it does.
Know how much water your sprinkler system or Gardner applies.
With sprinkler systems, the amount of water distributed can be easily measured and predicted, I encourage you to install one for even distribution of water. A Gardener usually does not care about water waste and is willing to over water a lot, the fear of under watering propels this, I have seen it more than I would like, a hose being turned on and left unattended for hours on hand early morning mid morning noon and afternoon. What a waste, Just because our water is subsidized does not give us the right to abuse it. If this kind of activity continues, I hope there will be laws implemented on correct water use. Or worse yet, water shortage which we have all experienced but on a bigger scale. Be part of the solution and not the problem.
How to measure your sprinkler systems evenness and water use.
You (and the kids) can perform the can test to see how much water your system is applying. Take 6 or more flat bottomed cans, like tuna or cat food cans. Place them around your lawn. Turn on the sprinklers for 15 minutes. Measure the depth of the water in each can. Add them all together and then divide by the number of cans. That will give you the average watering depth.
If you see variations in the depth that are larger than a 2 cm, you probably need to adjust some of the sprinklers or repair clogged sprinkler heads.
. Here's a handy worksheet and instruction guide from University of Arizona.
- Water an hour or two before sunrise, so the water won't evaporate as quickly. Once you know your run time, make adjustments based on short term weather changes.
- if the ground is mushy, or mushrooms or fungus grows, the lawn is getting too much water. If the ground is dry its ok, the important thing is to have water in the root zone and not necessarily on top. Again a water meter or a bamboo skewer does the job. Insert in the ground and you will get an idea of water level.
- Regularly check your sprinkler heads to make sure that water is coming out, and is directed to the right area. don't water when it's windy except if you absolutely must.
- Mow regularly for a healthy lawn. Keep the grass blades higher in summer to aid in water retention. Think of two people, one bald and the other has a head of hair to protect the scalp from overheating.
Happy Gardening :)
A great lawn cools the yard and make great memories,