How to Help Your Lawn Recover from Drought

Drought and Lawns

Drought can leave your lawn permanently damaged. Often during drought, water rationing goes into effect. So maintaining your yard prior to drought with the correct level of fertilizer, coupled with good water management practices, will help reduce damage.

Once seasonal rains resume, many turf areas will green-up. Areas that do not recover may require spot seeding, plugging or sodding. In severe cases, complete lawn renovation may be necessary.

Watering: Most turf grasses prefer watering once a week, if they are deeply watered. To reduce waste, watering needs to occur slowly or over multiple intervals that allow water to soak into the ground.

Mowing: Raise the mowing height to shade the soil. This cools the surface, reducing moisture requirements and weed competition.

Fertilization: Proper fertilization can help turf survive a drought. Over fertilization, especially with quick-release nitrogen, can have negative effects.

Aerification: Thin turf can be improved with core aerification. Cores of soil are removed to allow water and oxygen to more freely move into the soil. Recently aerified turf retains more rainfall than a hard surface.

Spot seeding: Thin or bare areas can be seeded. Small areas can be done by hand. Loosen soil before seeding to provide good soil-seed contact. If seeded areas are bare, cover them with a thin layer of mulch to keep the surface moist for favorable germination.

Renovation: As in spot seeding, good soil-seed contact is essential for proper germination and establishment of seedlings. For large areas, use a slit-seeder - a specialized machine that cuts grooves into the soil and plants seeds into these openings.

Seeded areas should receive light, frequent watering for the first couple of weeks to initiate germination and encourage growth. Herbicides should not be used to control weeds until the lawn is established.

To learn more about how to care for your lawn in a drought, contact your local certified Davey office.

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