9 Tips for Surviving a Drought
There are many things inevitable in life and a drought is no exception. Temperatures rising and sparse rain is sure to put a major strain on your lawn. If you’re not careful, it could end up dead. A drought may be short or extremely long, but you will need to prepare to survive one of the toughest periods for your lawn. The following 9 tips will prepare your lawn for severe drought conditions:
1. Water deep and infrequently. You want to encourage deep roots and prepare your grass for dry periods. Wait for the grass to turn bluish-gray before watering.
2. Mow on the highest setting your mower has and mow as few times as possible, but avoid cutting more than 1/3 of the grass off at a time. It’s better to mow high all season rather than raising the mower during the thick of a drought. Make sure your mower blade is sharp because dull blades will stress your grass even more. Also, leave the grass clippings on the lawn.
3. Do not fertilize during a drought. This can cause unneeded stress on your lawn and the salt in synthetic fertilizers will rob the moisture in the soil. Use a low-nitrogen fertilizer during healthy periods of rainfall. Some recommend potassium for drought tolerance, but it’s not well-documented so I wouldn’t put out too much.
4. Apply compost topdressing to lawn. This will not only increase microbial activity in the soil, but it will improve moisture retention.
6. Use a drought tolerant grass. There are many grasses available that need less water like Centipede and Bermuda. If you’re putting in a new lawn, you have the benefit of choosing a drought-tolerant grass. For everyone else, you work the best with what you have.
7. Avoid foot traffic and lawn activities. Stress, stress, stress. You’d be surprised how much a little traffic will damage drought-stressed grass.
8. Try to water between 5:00 and 8:00 am and when it’s not windy to limit evaporation.
9. Don’t apply any herbicides or fungicides as they can damage drought-stressed lawns.
Ultimately, a strong, healthy lawn will survive a drought much better so follow best practices even during the good times. Basically traffic, extreme heat, poor soil, low-scalping mows, and excess nitrogen will impede the survivability of your turf. Follow the tips outlined, do your best to avoid bad conditions, and the lawn will survive even the most severe of droughts.
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