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Drought-Proofing Your Lawn

A drought is more than just a week with no rain. It’s an extended period (a few weeks, at least) with little or no rain. When your grass turns brown, it’s essentially going into hibernation to save energy. You’ll notice this discoloration after a week or so with upper 90’s temperatures and no rain. 

Signs of heat stress

There are other signs of heat stress than brown grass.

Perhaps you’ve noticed footprints on your grass after you walk across your lawn. Footprints on a hydrated lawn should disappear after a few minutes, because hydration gives grass blades their elasticity. If your footprints are still visible after a few hours, your lawn needs water. 

Soil shrinks during a drought. Look along the edge of your yard, where it meets the driveway or sidewalk. If there’s an obvious gap in the soil at these edges, the soil is drying up, and your grass needs water. 

Of course, dry soil is hard soil. Take a screwdriver and push it about six inches into the ground. If it goes in easily, your lawn is hydrated. If it’s difficult or impossible, your lawn is too dry. 

Proper watering

Did you know that watering too often can result in shallow grass roots? It’s true. Non-irrigated lawns typically come through a drought in better shape than irrigated lawns.

Think about it. The roots of your grass only grow as deep as they need to in order to reach water. If the top layer of soil is always moist, the roots never need to penetrate deeper. When a drought hits, a shallow root system won’t be able to absorb as much water as it needs. 

It’s best to water deeply and infrequently (two or three times per week), so grass roots must grow deeper to find water. 

Tips for watering systems

If you use and irrigation system to water your lawn, investing in a rain sensor will save you water and money. Not to mention, you’ll benefit from a healthier lawn with fewer weeds. 

To put it simply, a rain sensor tells your irrigation system not to run when it’s raining. This prevents overwatering and removes the hassle of manually turning your system on and off according to the weather. 

A good irrigation schedule waters deeply, as mentioned above. Set the timer of your irrigation system to run two or three days a week, leaving at least a day in between. If it rains, your rain sensor will prevent the irrigation from running for a few days automatically. 

If you don’t have an irrigation system, sprinklers will work just fine. Your lawn needs about an inch of rainfall per week to thrive. That typically translates to about 20 to 30 minutes of sprinkler time three times per week. As with an irrigation system, you’ll want to leave at least a day between waterings. 

Don’t forget to move your sprinklers around to reach all areas of your yard, especially during a drought. The best time to water is between 5 and 9 a.m. Watering at night invites fungi and diseases to fester in your grass.

Prepare your yard for anything

Know your grass. During a drought, Bermuda grass will fare best, while Centipede and St. Augustine grasses will need more pampering. 

By caring for your yard through aeration, consistent weekly mowing, and timely fertilization, you can give your grass a fighting chance against drought. Our technicians will work with you to create a plan to keep your yard beautiful throughout the summer. Contact us today to schedule your complimentary assessment.

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