How to Care for Your Lawn during Drought - dummies

How to Care for Your Lawn during Drought

By Lance Walheim, The National Gardening Association

When the skies dry up and every drop of water becomes precious, your lawn may be the first place you want to cut back on watering. You have many ways to reduce watering. Water is such a precious and limited resource, you need to use it wisely.

Here’s a wrap-up of how you can water your lawn with conservation in mind.

  • Mow higher to encourage deeper roots.

  • Avoid runoff by applying water slowly or in cycles.

  • Encourage deep roots by watering deeply but infrequently.

  • Maintain your sprinkler system properly.

  • Adjust watering times with the seasons and the weather.

  • Aerate and dethatch to improve water penetration.

  • Use a timer so that you don’t forget to turn off portable sprinklers.

  • Plant lawn grasses that are well-adapted to your area and planting site.

  • Water in the morning to reduce evaporation.

  • Use local evapotranspiration (ET) figures to determine how much water your lawn needs.

  • Perform a can test to find out how much and how fast your sprinklers apply water.

  • Save water by using a soaker hose in a narrow lawn area.

Usually, lawn-watering requirements are 20 percent to 40 percent less than what is usually published as a base ET (an average figure for all plants), depending on whether you have warm-season or cool-season grass. You should also bump the number up a bit to compensate for the unevenness in which most sprinklers apply water.

You also should realize that ET figures are only guidelines. The numbers don’t take into consideration specific conditions in your yard, such as shade, compacted soil, or sloping ground. You still have to be a good observer and make adjustments according to how your lawn reacts to the guidelines.