Lawn Care

Keep your yard and garden thriving while protecting our valuable resource by using water wisely this summer! Though at times it may feel like we live in a rainforest with endless amounts of rain, the capital region lies in a Northern Mediterranean climate with warm, wet winters but hot, dry summers. The winter months bring the rain, filling up the Sooke Lake Reservoir for use over the entire year.

In summer months, water demand almost doubles, primarily from non-essential uses like outdoor watering. With a changing climate, longer dry spells in the summer are expected, meaning our winter water will need to last for longer. By conserving water outdoors, we can help make sure there is enough available to meet drinking water demand, for fire protection and to support fish and ecosystems, through the dry, hot months.

Follow our lawn care best practices calendar for a thriving water wise lawn all year long!

Summer Lawn Care Best Practices: 

  • Gold is the New Green – Let your lawn go golden. Lawns naturally go dormant in the summer and will bounce back to green with the fall rains. Learn more >>
  • Stage 1 Watering Schedule – gaugeongrassAdjust your watering schedule for the current weather conditions and the designated days and times as laid out in the CRD’s Stage 1 Watering Schedule, in effect May 1 to September 30.
  • Just Takes 1 – Green lawns only need one inch (2.5cm) of water per week, including rain, even in the driest conditions. Longer, infrequent watering will help develop healthier roots and minimize washing away beneficial nutrients. Place an empty tuna can or watering gauge in your yard to determine how long your sprinkler system takes to deliver one inch (2.5cm) of water to the lawn. Learn more >>
  • Cycle and Soak – Irrigate in three short bursts to allow water to seep into the soil, reducing runoff and water waste while also promoting strong roots. Divide the time it takes your to sprinkler to deliver one inch (2.5cm) of water by three. Water for that length of time, turn off your sprinkler or irrigation system for an hour, and repeat two more times. Irrigation controllers can be adjusted for this cycle and soak method. Learn more >>
  •  Check for Leaks A leaking irrigation system can cost up to $250 per month! Repair leaks yourself with the CRD’s Irrigation Maintenance Video Series or hire an Irrigation Industry Association of BC certified contractor.

Know When You Mow

Set your mower height to leave five to six centimeters (about two inches) and cut no more than the top third of the grass length. Longer grass encourages stronger, deeper roots, and can help shade the soil to reduce evaporation. Leave grass clippings to decompose (grasscycling); they act as mini-mulch to reduce evaporation and add nutrients. Keep mower blades sharp to avoid tearing the grass. Don’t cut wet grass.

Check out more mowing tips in this video.

Remove Thatch

Thatch is the layer of dead matted grass and organic matter that forms between the blades of grass and the soil. A thin layer of thatch can be beneficial, preventing evaporation. Too much thatch (more than 1.5 cm) can be harmful and rob the roots of oxygen and water. Remove thatch from your lawn at least once a year, using a rake, a thatching attachment on your mower or a thatching machine.

Aerate Your Lawn

Aerate in the spring and fall to improve nutrient uptake by the grass by increasing water absorption, reducing compaction, and helping oxygen and organic matter reach the roots. Aerate by puncturing the lawn with a gardening fork or by renting a powered aerator. If you have an underground irrigation system, identify the location of lines before aerating to avoid punctures. After aeration, overseed and dress your lawn with a thin layer of compost to help soil hold water and nutrients. See how to aerate and top dress with this video.


Overseed with a low-maintenance lawn seed mixture such as micro clover, fescues and perennial rye grasses for a drought-tolerant and weed-repellent lawn.
Micro clover will:

  • Stay green longer during the dry summer months
  • Feed the lawn naturally by fixing nitrogen into the soil
  • Reduce weeds
  • Save time and energy with less mowing and maintenance

Plan to overseed at least a month before the start of watering schedule (May 1).

Efficient Irrigation

Green lawns only need one inch (2.5 cm) of water per week including rainfall, even in the driest conditions. Deep, infrequent watering encourages strong root systems. Using too much water causes nutrient runoff, promotes shallow rooting and contributes to the buildup of thatch. After a day of heavy rain, consider skipping watering until the following week or install a rain shut-off device onto your irrigation system that will automatically turn your system off when it is raining.

To reduce evaporation and scorching of leaves from the sun, water in the early morning from 4 - 10am or the evening from 7 - 10pm according to the Stage 1 Watering Schedule. Make sure your sprinkler or irrigation system is watering the lawn and not hard surfaces such as driveways and sidewalks. Fix leaks and broken or clogged sprinkler heads. Check out this video for more efficient irrigation tips.

Weed and Soil Maintenance

Weeding prevents roots from establishing and draining resources from your lawn. Top-dress damaged areas with sand or soil and overseed before weeds can re-establish. Be sure to handle invasive species properly.

Healthy soil will help keep your lawn green as well as keep away weeds and pests. Test the pH of your soil – if found to be acidic, apply lime in the early spring and fall, at least a month before overseeding. A neutral pH helps protect grass from heat and drought. Local garden centres have tools for proper pH measuring and lime application. Learn more about applying lime with this video.

Soil composition will impact how often your lawn needs to be watered. Soils with lots of clay will retain moisture better than more sandy soils. A well-balanced soil that is properly watered should not need fertilizer.

Lawn Alternatives

Replace some areas of lawn with low-growing ground covers like clover or herbs, native plants or vegetable gardens. Native plants and vegetable gardens use significantly less water compared to lawns. Another alternative is to cover parts of your garden with permeable paving made from natural or synthetic materials, such as flat rocks, flagstones, concrete, asphalt or compact gravel that allow rainfall to infiltrate into the ground.