By Deryn Thorpe – this article first appeared in Habitat in The West Australian newspaper.

We’ve had some reticulation issues in our garden, a riser in one of the garden beds had snapped off and consequently the water pressure decreased dramatically.

This led to big patches of our front lawn becoming brown and dry and now that the problem has been fixed we have spent the afternoon taking measures to try to rejuvenate our grass.

Whenever part of the garden dries out completely the soil becomes water repellent so we have applied a wetting agent and watered it in really well.  It is best to water the lawn before and after you apply the wetting agent and use a hand hose to ensure that the area gets really flooded with water.

Wetting agents are surfactants, which are detergent-like substances that reduce the surface tension of water, allowing it to penetrate and wet the soil more easily.

In our hydrophobic soils, the sand particles are coated with waxy substances that repel water which are created when organic matter breaks down in our soil.

One of the problems with lawns is that the only real chance you get to create a real good soil is prior to laying them. Unfortunately the lawn was established long before it was common practise to add clay to our sandy soils, but if I was establishing a lawn today I would definitely dig about 5% clay and a generous layer of compost into the soil before laying the turf.

This weekend I am going to apply a composted lupin/canola and chicken manure-based product called Lawn Maximiser by DSATCO to the lawn. You apply a 2mm thick layer of the product, which has the consistency of sawdust, by hand and then rake it all over to even out any lumps and to ease the product down between the leaf blades onto the roots.

Water for three consecutive days after application. I have found that this helps rejuvenate the lawn by building up the soil, which will help feed all the important microscopic soil life and ultimately help the soil retain water.

The proof of course will be my lawn, which with all this attention will soon show a glimmer of green.

Deryn Thorpe is an award winning Perth writer. She occupies herself as a journalist, a garden consultant, PR person and marketer. She now lends her considerable talent to producing regular pieces for the Habitat section on the West Australian newspaper.