Lawn Care

Live green in your yard and garden to help protect the environment and our valuable water resource. With a changing climate and longer dry spells in the summer, our winter water that replenishes the Sooke Lake Reservoir for use over the entire year will need to last longer.

By preparing in the fall, we can have a thriving yard and garden during the dry summer months, which will help make sure there is enough water available to meet demand for drinking water, fire protection and to support fish and ecosystems. 

You can help with these tips: 

Convert unused lawn to native plant meadows.

Adapted to our Northern Mediterranean climate, native plants are often pest and disease free with no watering and fertilizer required. Converting a traditional lawn to native plant meadows saves time, money, and water!

Complete fall lawn care.

Every summer, lawn care is a major draw in our water supply, but a healthy lawn needs less water. Practice these fall lawn care tips for a thriving water wise lawn during the dry summer months:

  • Remove dead, matted grass by de-thatching.
  • Aerate to allow water and nutrients to seep into the soil more easily.
  • Apply lime if needed.
  • Top dress with compost and overseed drought-tolerant alternative, such as micro clover.
  • Adjust your watering to account for rainfall.

Water wisely.

Did you know that deep, infrequent watering encourages strong root systems and healthier plants? After a day of rain, consider skipping water until the following week. Remember the CRD's Stage 1 Watering Schedule is in effect each year from May 1 through September 30.

If you use a timed/automatic irrigation system please help the CRD reduce the 4 am, 5 am and 6 am peak demand for water. High and sudden demands for water impact the system’s ability to maintain adequate flow, pressure, and high water quality standards. Please switch your automatic irrigation system to the new overnight lawn watering allowable time and avoid starting your system at 4 am, 5 am and 6 am. For more information, check out our watering schedule. As well, please schedule your system to start off of the top of the hour, pick a random time instead. Learn more about how to reschedule your irrigation system here.

Winterize your irrigation system.

In the capital region's mild winters, it may not seem necessary to winterize your irrigation system, but even a quick freeze can wreak havoc on irrigation systems and equipment. This fall, make sure to winterize your system to help prevent leaks and damage. Learn how >>

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

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.