High and Dry: How to Keep Lawns Fresh During a Drought

big house with nice lawn

Last year, despite enjoying a very wet spring, meteorologists in Iowa recorded that precipitation dropped rapidly during the summer. The steep drop in rainfall and atmospheric moisture raised concerns that the state might be in for another drought. These fears aren’t unfounded, as Iowa once experienced one of the longest droughts in recent memory. The dry spell lasted a total of 151 weeks, spanning from 2011 to 2014.

Aside from its terrible impact on agriculture, prolonged droughts can also wreak havoc on the health of your lawn. So how can you prevent the heat from damaging your turf and plants? You can keep your yard and garden healthy throughout a drought if you consider the following advice.

Before a Drought

You need to prepare your lawn for the ravages of drought before it even fully hits the state. You can either prepare your lawn yourself or contact a residential lawn care provider to employ these measures. They’ll make sure the lawn is as strong as possible and more likely to weather the drought.

  • Switch from nitrogen fertilizers and increase potassium fertilizers.
  • Instead of watering your lawn every day, start conditioning it for arid conditions. Water your lawn infrequently but deeply.
  • Begin reducing thatch and try to relieve compacted areas.
  • Schedule your lawn watering either at night or very early in the morning to avoid evaporatioan.
  • Set your lawnmowers so that you only remove the top third of your turf. This will make sure the turf covers the ground, reducing moisture loss.

During a Drought

lawnmowerWhen the drought hits, you need to be aware of any legislation or guidelines that limit water usage. Most restrictions prevent you from watering your lawn daily if they allow you to water it at all.

The following measures could increase the chances of your lawn making it through the drought.

  • Sharpen your lawn mower’s blades during the drought and keep mowing. Sharp blades are necessary to prevent the mower from ripping up grass and tearing the leaves in jagged edges.
  • Set your mower so that it cuts only the top quarter of your lawn. Setting it too low can kill the turf.
  • When you mow, leave grass clippings on the turf. This could provide moisture to your lawn. Remember to remove them when the clippings are getting too thick or your lawn might suffocate.
  • Prevent any traffic on your lawn as much as possible. This includes any pedestrians or machinery. Traffic of any kind not only traumatizes the sod, but it also compacts the soil which makes it harder for it to absorb water.
  • Punch holes into the ground of your lawn to aerate it. You can either use a garden fork or a power aerator. The holes will help convey water quickly into the root system of your lawn.

After a Drought

When the drought officially ends, help your lawn recuperate faster with the following tips.

  • When they lift water restrictions, immediately soak your lawn to make up the lost moisture and help your lawn put out new growth. Focus watering on areas that easily dry out such as slopes.
  • Use balanced fertilizer to coax new growth even more.
  • Pull out weeds to remove competition for nutrients and water.

Taking care of your lawn during a drought is a challenge but when you succeed, your home will enjoy the cool atmosphere and soothing greenery only a healthy lawn can provide.

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