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Lawn Care During Drought Conditions

The summer of 2016 is looking like it is headed to the record books. While we all wait anxiously for warm summer weather, extremes like this year can play havoc with your lawn.

Urban Lawn

Shady city lawn

Naturally, our first instinct is to water like crazy, but there are a few things to keep in mind. If you are lucky enough to have a big shade tree in your yard, your lawn will likely come through a drought situation better than most. Yes, the trees do suck up some of the moisture, but protection from that intense sun helps protect the lawn.

Water wisely. Try not to water in the middle of the day. First thing in the morning is best, with evening being the next best choice. While watering is important, keep in mind a few good deep soakings are better than many short sprinkles.

When the lawns turn brown in a heat wave, in most cases, they are not dead, but only dormant. The leaves or crown of the plant dies back but the root systems are still alive. These can survive about 6 weeks with little water. It is important to water during a drought but donā€™t worry if the lawn still looks brown, even if you have watered it. Keep in mind those roots are okay and once the regular rain comes the lawn will usually green right up.

Something else to keep in mind is that when the grass is dormant, it is more prone to damage. Chinch bugs are very active in the heat, and can kill the grass if the heat is prolonged.  Also, keeping off the grass as much as possible is a good idea. Don’t know what chinch bugs look like? Check here: http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/product-safety-securite-produits/pest-control-products-produits-antiparasitaires/pesticides/tips-conseils/chinch-punaises-cereal-eng.php

Another thing to keep in mind when the hot weather begins is to keep your lawn a little longer than usual. We recommend about 3-31/2 inches. This also encourages deeper root growth as well. Ensuring your lawn is well aerated also helps any moisture you apply get down to the root system.

A mature, well established lawn will of course withstand drought conditions better. Keeping up with a regular turf care program will in the long run mean a more drought tolerant lawn. Keeping in mind that during a severe heat wave do not apply any weed control treatments. Once the drought is over, return to your regular watering cycle and maintenance.