Tips To Fix Your Lawn During A Summer Drought

It’s almost inevitable. Summer arrives with scorching temps and lots of rain. But then the rain doesn’t always stay and drought conditions kick in. Lawn care becomes more complicated in an instant. Drought is more of a problem than ever before and worse in specific areas of the United States than others. Statistics estimate that 53 million people are living in drought-affected areas worldwide. More than 93 percent of the land area in Utah, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico is in some level of drought while 69 percent of Utah is in severe drought, as is 61 percent of Colorado. California, parts of Florida, and other areas of the United States also experience regular drought periods throughout the year and especially in summer.   

Keeping a healthy lawn during the dry or drought period is not easy. There are ways, however, to keep the summer drought woes at bay. Spring-Green, your neighborhood lawn care specialists since 1977, has the tips you need to work through the drought and keep your lawn in good shape all summer long.  

How To Deal Your Lawn During A Summer Drought:  

What to do before the drought starts –   

  • Create a water collection system – Rain barrels can be amazing and easy to install water collection systems and help combat the impact of droughts. For every inch of rain, you can gain approximately 500 gallons of water. Be sure you research your state’s laws about rainwater collection – some states have specific restrictions about rainwater collection and use.  
  • Install an irrigation system – A watering system can save water as well as money by allowing you to control the timing and amount of water used to hydrate your lawn.  
  • Choose grass wisely. Did you know that certain grass types are better for drought-prone areas? Zoysiagrass, buffalo grass, and fescue are the best grasses for drought conditions. Grasses that are native to the area are also the best considerations to deal with the local weather and drought conditions.    
  • Soil quality matters tooSoil testing can support how your lawn grows and thrives with or without the presence of drought conditions. In the event of a drought, it begins to matter even more. Soil support can help your grass thrive all summer long.   

What to do while the drought is in full effect –   

  • Limit foot traffic. Compacted soil is never a good idea on lawns and especially bad during a drought. Rope off or otherwise protect vulnerable areas especially when hydration is an issue. You should keep a close eye out for areas that look trampled or show footprints.   
  • Watch the weather. Don’t let the drought sneak up on you. Keep a close eye on local conditions and track drought conditions.  
  • Watch for signs. Keeping a close watch for signs of stress and disease is imperative to ushering your lawn through the dry season. Signs may look like thinning and browning as lack of water and excessive heat wreak havoc on the plant’s photosynthesis making your lawn unable to store carbohydrates. You may notice your grass wilting or darkening in color. Also, footprints will remain visible after walking on the lawn.   
  • Fertilize in moderation. Fertilizing can be great but there is a tipping point. Don’t try to offset the problems caused by drought by adding more and more fertilizer. This will burn your lawn.  
  • Mow at a higher setting. It’s a common mistake that buzz-cut-loving homeowners make. Cutting the grass too low can cause unneeded stress on your lawn during drought periods. Your mower should be set to around three inches. Keeping the grass a bit taller will help it to shade its fragile root systems and keep the soil moister by reducing evaporation from the sun.   

 If you live in an area where drought is getting worse and staying around longer, you may have to consider a few alternative solutions. Sustaining a lush, healthy lawn can be a challenge or impossibility in your geographical region. Here are some options to consider if you are faced with year-round drought conditions.  

  • Downsizing your Lawn – It may be worthwhile to reconsider just how much lawn you have if drought is an ongoing issue. With the increase in drought and water shortages, many homeowners are downsizing their green to support conservation, comply with local regulations and reduce the heavy lifting, not to mention lower the costs of having a lush green lawn in areas where it is hard to maintain. If a lawn is still desired for children or pets or even aesthetics there is no need to eliminate it, just make the area smaller and easier to manage.  
  • Artificial grass is trending – Artificial grass is not everyone’s aesthetic preference, but in some cases, it’s the most practical option. Desert environments undergoing water restrictions hardly merit an argument for a lawn and a little patch of artificial turf can be all that is needed for a pet or sitting area. Maintenance is easy and many varieties of artificial turf get remarkably close to looking like the real thing.  
  • Move toward drought-tolerant grass – Some grasses are better at dealing with drought conditions than others naturally. These drought-tolerant traits can help you fight the battle against drought and still have the full lawn you seek.  

Spring-Green specializes in lawn care in all conditions. For your home or your business, we can help you maintain the investment you’ve made in your lawn as well as help you amplify your enjoyment of your outdoor living space. During the hot, dry summer months, we are here to help you offset the impact of drought (and of course, all the other conditions year-round). Contact one of our professional team members in your area today to get started.  

Contact Spring-Green. 

Why Do I Need Lawn Care During a Drought?

You hired a lawn care company to help take care of your lawn this year, but are wondering why they continue coming out to put fertilizer down on a brown and dormant lawn. It is a good question to ask, and one that needs answering.

First of all, it has been our experience going through previous drought periods that lawns which continued to receive regularly scheduled applications of fertilizer recovered much faster and looked better much sooner than lawns that received nothing. Once it begins raining again, or you water your lawn, it’s going to be in need of food to generate new grass blades. Spring-Green generally switches to a granular fertilizer during the summertime. The granular fertilizer will remain on the ground and not be activated until it receives irrigation in some form.

The second reason we continue to come out is to inspect your lawn for possible problems. Weeds will still germinate throughout the summer and insects and diseases can become active and do a lot of damage to a lawn. Unless we come out to take a look at your lawn, we don’t know if these problems are occurring. Sometimes we will adjust your lawn care program to apply an insect control material during a drought. Some insects, such as chinch bugs , thrive in the hot weather of summer. They will continue to feed on the lawn even when it is dry. Chinch bugs inject a toxin into the plant to help them digest the plant juices. This often results in death of the grass plant. Once it does rain, your lawn may not recover as well and large patches of dead grass may remain.

We also will be looking for other possible problems, such as insects feeding on your trees and shrubs. Japanese beetles are very active right now and are voraciously feeding on many plants. Sucking insects, such as aphids, also will be active throughout the summer.

Even during a drought, your lawn needs care. Your Spring-Green professional has received training to apply the best material to help your lawn recover from the effects of a prolonged drought. It’s the peace of mind that many people come to expect from Spring-Green.

Texas and Oklahoma Drought

Texas and Oklahoma are enduring a serious drought this year.  In fact, the drought actually started last fall and has persisted throughout 2011 with little relief.  Many areas haven’t experienced drought at this level since the Dust Bowl era of the 1920’s and 30’s.  Farmers and ranchers are faced with major crop losses and herd reductions as they deal with the abnormally low rain fall levels.

What about the care of lawns in these areas?  Fortunately, most warm season grasses are adapted to low moisture levels and excessive heat.  Bermuda and Zoysia can go an entire summer without water.  St. Augustine and Centipede can survive for 3 to 4 months without water.  When I say survive, that does not mean there won’t be some damage to the plants when rain returns to the area.  Turf is a remarkable plant and can recover after much adversity, but there are limits when the environment is just too extreme.

Be conservative with watering.  Your goal should be to keep the grass alive, but not necessarily green.  When soil dries out completely, it is better to water in short increments of 15 minutes, a couple of times in one day.  Very dry soil takes a while to “re-wet”, so successive watering to slowly moisten the soil is better than watering for a long time all at once.  Water once every other week.  Your lawn may not be the greenest on the block, but it will recover faster once regular rain fall returns.