For first-time homeowners, it can be tricky to know how to handle your lawn during a drought, and if you don’t know what you’re doing it’s easy to overwater. Here are some easy ways to protect your lawn during a drought and avoid watering too much, or too little.
You have two options when it comes to the hot summer months. You can either keep watering your grass in an attempt to keep it green and healthy, or let it go dormant for the hot months (keep water restrictions in mind when you make this decision—if you live in an area that tends to restrict water usage during drought months, you may be forced to let your lawn go dormant). The important thing to remember is to decide ahead of time and stick to your guns. If you let the grass brown and then water it, and then let it brown again, you stand to do more permanent damage to the plant than if you just let it go dormant for the entire season and begin to re-water when conditions improve.
If you sense that a drought might be coming and you want to water your grass, make sure to water properly while you still can. You can perform the “spring test” to see if your grass needs to be watered: if you step on your grass and it springs back, it probably doesn’t need water. If you step on it and it stays bent, it probably needs some water!
To water properly, make sure to water in the early hours of the morning, when the grass is still wet from dew—that’s when it’ll be the most willing to accept water. Pay attention to the rainfall; if you’re expected to get an inch of rain, adjust your sprinklers accordingly. Overwatering is just as dangerous as under watering. And remember that going a week without an inch of water won’t kill your grass.
Water infrequently. You want to make sure that the moisture makes it all the way to the root of the grass, so make sure that it soaks through—but if you water too often, you’ll be mowing constantly!
If you choose to let your lawn go dormant during the hot months, there are a couple of things you can do to keep the dormant grass healthy so that it’ll bounce back quickly when you’re able to water it again. You can use a de-thatcher to remove grass clippings and dead blades from the top of the grass, and you can aerate the lawn. Both of these methods will allow for any spare moisture to soak through to the root. Don’t forget to mow as needed
When the drought is over, water thoroughly, and return to business as usual. Your grass will bounce back with a little bit of fertilizer and TLC.