This week’s short patch of warmer weather probably had you thinking about your lawn and wondering what you can do prepare it for summer while the city is still under mandatory water restrictions. Our drought status isn’t likely to be updated until at least May, so in the meantime, I thought it would be a good idea to give you a few tips on how you can try to preserve your grass as we continue through this dry spell.
Of course, grass needs water to grow, but outdoor watering right now is not possible, so first let’s focus on the soil. Healthy soil is key for root systems to grow and with proper aeration and management, soil can actually retain moisture incredibly well. When water is scarce, roots will dig deep to find the nutrients that they need. If they can’t find what they are looking for due to compaction, low pH levels, or layers of dead materials, the roots will start to die off and you’ll find yourself with a brown lawn. However, if your soil is in good shape, you don’t need to water your lawn as much, regardless of our drought status. Here are most common methods of maintaining good soil.
Topdressing is the application of a thin layer of compost to your lawn. The nutrient-rich composition of organic matter in compost can give your lawn the biology boost it needs to stay strong during drought conditions.
Aerating is a method by which a homeowner uses a machine to punch small holes into the lawn, allowing air, water, and nutrients to reach the roots of the lawn easier. This is an excellent practice during drought times as it allows what little precipitation we may get to reach the most important part of the lawn faster.
Dethatching is the process that removes old and dead organic materials such as leaves from your lawn. The long winter generally kills anything that isn’t attached to roots, and these materials can get compacted into your lawn, placing a barrier between your grass and the sun, air, and water it needs to grow. Removing the thatch is key to let the new, living material get to the surface.
Once your soil is in tip-top shape, you can decide whether to try and preserve the grass you have or look for a drought tolerant alternative. If you’d like to try and keep your grass until the drought lets up, mow it as infrequently as possible and cut it at the highest setting on your lawn mower.
For those who are interested in drought-tolerant grasses, some of the most popular warm season varieties include Bermuda grass, Zoysia grass, and Buffalo grass, but each variety performs differently depending on the amount of sun and traffic they get, as well as the soil composition.
Hopefully, we won’t need to worry about drought tolerant lawn care in the near future, but if you are looking to make a major change with your landscaping, always consult with a professional who can help you choose which solution is right for your needs.
Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.