Everyone loves a lush lawn, but keeping your property looking this way can be challenging, and care for a lawn during a drought requires special attention. When homeowners see their lawn go dormant and the grass turns brown, many look for ways to keep their yards as lush and vibrant as possible. Thankfully, things can help keep your lawn healthy during hot, dry weather, including mowing, watering, mulching, fertilizing, and controlling weeds.
The following tips will help relieve some of the issues you may run into with your lawn during drought.
One of the methods of drought-proofing your lawn is to mow high. Having your lawn mowed high will help prevent disease and insect infestations and allow you to save on water. Your lawn should be at least 3 inches long for healthy turf growth in drought conditions.
In these drought conditions, we recommend erring on the side of caution: leave your grass a little longer than usual until things start looking better. You can always cut shorter later if needed! Plus, taller grass means less sunlight reaching each blade. While sunlight is necessary for grass, less sunlight helps keep grass cooler in hot weather like PA residents experience each summer
Another way to care for your lawn during drought conditions is to water deeply and infrequently. Many homeowners think watering frequently would be better in a drought, but the opposite is true. When a lawn receives shallow watering, shallow root system growth is encouraged. As a result, the roots only grow down 2 to 3 inches, enough for your grass to stay alive. However, that depth is too shallow for grass roots to access deep soil moisture that could help them survive drought conditions more easily.
On the other hand, when you water deeply (i.e., over 6 inches), you encourage deep root growth that can reach moisture in pore spaces between soil particles. This reduces evaporation from your lawn and makes more water available during drought periods when rainfall is scarce or nonexistent.
To help with watering, get a sprinkler irrigation system to ensure your grass receives water at the correct depth and time. Sprinkler systems can efficiently provide water to your lawn and plants so that you can save time and conserve water. Smart irrigation systems can also be programmed to water based on a schedule or even use weather data and adjust the irrigation schedule dynamically.
Mulch is an organic layer of material applied to the soil’s surface. One of the reasons to use mulch, particularly during hot weather, is that mulch helps to retain moisture in the ground and prevent weeds from growing. In addition, you or a landscape professional can make mulch from any organic material, such as bark chips, grass clippings, and sawdust.
You should avoid excessively fertilizing your lawn during drought conditions, especially with fertilizer that contains high amounts of nitrogen. Too-frequent or excessive application of nitrogen-rich fertilizer can cause your grass to grow. This new growth is more susceptible to the harsh weather conditions of drought. In addition, lawn grasses need an ample amount of water to absorb fertilizer’s nutrients, which is more difficult during a drought. So any fertilizer you apply may be less potent than in cooler seasons like fall.
Weed control is a critical part of lawn care. Unfortunately, weeds are one of the biggest causes of lawn damage and can be challenging to control. A significant reason weeds need to be kept in check is that weeds compete for water and nutrients with your grass. During a drought, when water and nutrients are tougher to get, the weeds will use up the water and nutrients that should be going to your grass. In addition, weeds also provide an ideal environment for fire to spread.
In summer, many homeowners look for sprinkler systems to help maintain a green lawn during drought conditions. Burkholder Brothers offers a free consultation and will design an irrigation and sprinkler system that is right for your landscape. If you work with us, our team can install a sprinkler system to help you spend less time on your lawn and more time enjoying your outdoor space. For more information about irrigation systems and our services, contact Burkholder today.
359 Paoli Pike
Malvern, PA 19355
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PA HIC #035148