Rarely do we get through a summer without a dry spell or two. Many parts of our region are currently experiencing dry to abnormally dry weather, especially areas northwest and southeast of Atlanta. Since your grass is more susceptible to damage when it’s dry, follow these tips to keep your lawn green and healthy, even during drought.
Keep Off the Grass
Keep foot traffic and machinery traffic to a minimum when the ground is dry. Grass can become weak or brittle when it is dehydrated, making it easier to damage. Grass stressed from drought is also more susceptible to disease and weed infestation. Additional stress from feet and machinery can compound that susceptibility.
Water Deeper, Less Often
Watering lightly more often actually makes grass and other plants less capable of tolerating drought. Frequent light watering results in shorter roots, since the water only penetrates the soil near the surface. Deeper watering less often, on the other hand, ensures the water gets down through several inches of soil, encouraging longer roots that can withstand dry weather more easily. Aim for half an inch of water from irrigation and rain, if you’re so fortunate, every three days.
Slower Is Better
If you apply too much water too fast, you may create runoff. The excess water doesn’t have time to soak into the soil and streams downhill. Runoff not only wastes water, but also robs the grass’ roots of needed hydration, carrying away fertilizer and herbicide in the process. To avoid runoff, either slow the flow rate or periodically turn off the sprinklers to give the soil a chance to absorb the water fully.
Water in the Morning
On hot days, you may lose as much as a quarter of the water you apply due to evaporation. To give your lawn full benefit, water in the morning before the dew dries. This practice also protects your grass from various fungi that like to infiltrate lawns on wet blades overnight.
Choose Water-Saving Grass
Some grass varieties require less water than others. TifTuf™ Bermuda, a premium grass introduced after two decades of testing by the University of Georgia, boasts superior drought resistance. The high performance grass maintains its high quality and color while using 38% less water than other Bermuda grasses. TifTuf thrives in full sun and also tolerates shade better than other Bermuda grasses.
Check Your System
If you have an automatic sprinkler system, make sure that it is calibrated properly, so your whole lawn receives adequate water. Also, install a rain sensor so you don’t water too frequently.
Suspend Chemical Treatments
Grass naturally slows its growth during hot, dry weather, requiring less fertilizer. Also, adding chemicals to a dry lawn may burn the grass. Watch the weather and wait to apply chemicals like fertilizer, herbicides or pesticides until just before a good soaking rain.