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How to Take Care of Your Lawn in a Drought

Posted by Audrey Lichten

Aug 4, 2015


If you live in an area that is frequently affected by drought conditions, you may not be enjoying a lush green lawn at this point in the summer. However, a well-maintained lawn helps to boost your curb appeal and complements your exterior siding. Therefore, these few tips will help your grass survive this season. The key is to create a healthy soil and avoid stressing the vegetation further.

  1. Water infrequently and deeply to simulate rainfall. This teaches the roots to grow deeper to find a water source. Watering on alternate days saves 40-50% more water.
  2. Water late at night or in the early morning to avoid evaporation during the day.
  3. To avoid runoff when watering, apply water slowly or in cycles. Use a soaker hose on smaller strips of grass to avoid watering the driveway or street.
  4. For portable sprinklers, set a timer to monitor how long they're on and remind you when to turn them off.
  5. Maintain your sprinkler system to avoid leaking valves and heads that may be wasting water.
  6. Aerate and dethatch your lawn to improve water absorbency. This promotes root growth by allowing the water to soak deeper into the ground.
  7. When mowing your grass, set it to a higher setting. This encourages the grass to grow deeper roots and allows for more surface area on the blades to perform photosynthesis and keep the grass alive.
  8. Maintain your lawn equipment. Replace or sharpen the mower blades two or three times during the summer. When your blades are dull they tear the grass which causes mroe stress forcing it to use 40-60% more water to recover.
  9. Most importantly, if water restrictions are imposed on your community, follow them! Your lawn may turn yellow and go dormant during an extreme drought to survive without water. Don't worry though, dormant grasses will come back to life when it gets water again.

If you've noticed that these tips aren't cutting it, you may need to think ahead for next year and take some proactive steps for saving your lawn for the future.

  1. Plant lawn grasses that are well-adapted to your area and planting site. The following drought tolerant grasses can survive on less water. (Keep in mind other grasses require an inch or more of water per week.)
    Tall fescue - an adaptable, bunch-type grass with a coarse texture. It prefers 34" of water per week in one deep watering. It is also very tolerant to traffic.
    Buffalograss- a thick and hardy grass that requires little to no mowing and only 14" of water per week. It has a very slow start from seed so plugs are a better option for planting.
    Wheatgrass- a coarse looking grass that needs very little water. It's easy to start from seed and is a very low-maintenance grass. 
  2. Prepare for the drought season by following the tips above before the heat hits. This will strengthen your grass ahead of time to withstand more stress during the drought.
  3. However, finding an alternative to grass may be the best option in areas commonly affected by drought. Try some of these substitutes to avoid the troublesome grass situation altogether.
    Clover- microclover is a great counterpart to grass as it is a natural fertilizer for the soil by drawing in nitrogen, producing a greener plant. For a complete grass alternative, use White or Dutch clover as it won't grow tall and prevents weeds from intruding.
    Creeping Thyme- consider Spice Orange Thyme or Creeping Lemon Thyme for a green ground cover or Wooly Thyme for an especially soft surface. It won't grow beyond four inches high and produces small pink blossoms that create a beautiful aroma when compressed underfoot.
    Artificial Turf- to avoid the growing and maintenance of any living greenery, install an artificial turf. Turf technology has come a long way to produce a lawn alternative that looks like the real thing. Check out SYNlawn or ForeverLawn

We know that taking care of your yard can be a challenge. But with these tips we hope you have some more insight into the best way to maintain your lawn during those scorching summer days. For other ways to boost your curb appeal, consider an exterior siding project or contact Peninsula Siding Company with your questions.

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