“Drought” can be a four-letter word to many lawncare enthusiasts. Homeowners who put in the hours and hard work to create beautiful, lush lawns can see the fruits of all their labor gradually disappear when drought sets in. That can be both frustrating to homeowners and detrimental to long-term lawn health.
Treating lawns during drought or dry periods can be tricky, as some homeowners may be forced to adhere to water restrictions established by their local governments. Still, there are some ways to obey the law and still help lawns withstand drought and dry periods.
- Postpone fertilizer applications. Fertilizers are designed to help grass grow, but growing grass needs water it won’t have access to when water restrictions have been put in place. If a lawn needs to be fertilized during drought or dry periods, homeowners should consult with lawncare professionals, who may have experience applying fertilizer during drought. Professionals also may have access to more fertilizing products than homeowners will find at nearby lawn and garden centers.
- Pull weeds by hand instead of applying herbicides. Herbicides are substances used to destroy unwanted vegetation, such as weeds. When applied during droughts or dry periods, such products can make it harder for grass to overcome weeds. Instead of applying herbicides during drought or dry periods, pull weeds by hand. Doing so can address a weed problem without harming the grass.
- Water early. Water restrictions might not completely deny homeowners the right to water their lawns. Rather, such regulations restrict how much water homeowners can use to treat their lawns during drought or dry periods. Watering early, ideally between the hours of 4 a.m. and 8 a.m., ensures as little water as possible will be lost to evaporation and as much as possible will find its way onto the grass and into the soil. During periods of drought, temperatures tend to be at their highest in mid- to late-afternoon, so change automatic sprinkler timers if they are set to water during these hours.
- Adjust lawnmower blade height. Grass grows more slowly during drought or dry periods. As a result, homeowners won’t need to mow as often during such times as they would when conditions are more favorable. But lawns may still need to be mowed during drought. When mowing, leave grass on the longer side. Mowing stresses grass, which is already under considerable stress during drought. By setting mower blades to cut no more than one-third of the leaf blade at a time, homeowners can encourage roots to grow deeper. Deep roots help the grass combat the effects of drought.