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Maintenance and Irrigation: Preparing Your Lawn for a Drought

by Alex Russel, All About Lawns Columnist

Drought season is upon us. And as the years go by, the frequency of droughts seems to increase. Here are some lawn maintenance tips that will see you through the drought season.

That being said, preventative measures can be made. For existing lawns, work done about a month before a drought period can have a real impact on your lawn's ability to survive. The idea is to make the lawn as strong and healthy as possible before a drought hits.
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Pre-Emptive Maintenance for Droughts

  • Reduce thatch and compaction to make sure the whole lawn is getting air and irrigation
  • Reduce or eliminate nitrogen fertilizer and increase potassium fertilizer
  • Water the lawn late at night or early in the morning
  • Sharpen your mower blade two or three times per season to ensure that only the tops of grass blades are being cut
  • Leave lawn clippings on the lawn
  • Avoid using herbicides and pesticides

Once the drought hits, taking these additional steps can help:
  • Raise the mowing height 25 percent or more
  • Reduce foot traffic. Your lawn's ability to recover from usage is depleted in the summer
  • Increase watering on areas near buildings and other heat-reflecting surfaces, as well as high or sloped areas

When Irrigation Isn't an Option

If the drought is extended or water-use restrictions are implemented, take these additional steps:
  • Eliminate all foot traffic on the lawn.
  • Restrict watering to the areas that are most important to you
  • Accept that the un-watered portion on your lawn may be dormant and brown until conditions improve

As with most aspects of lawn maintenance, keeping a generally healthy lawn is your best bet for withstanding a drought. A well balanced, attentively maintained lawn has the best chance to survive a dry spell during the summer.

About the Author
Alex Russel is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Since graduating from Syracuse University he has worked at many different media companies in fields as diverse as film, TV, advertising, and journalism. He holds a dual bachelor's degree in English and History.

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