Lawn Care During the Drought

During hot summer days, regardless of the lawn type, grass is stressed due to the high temperatures, high moisture evaporation and in the end, lack of the moisture in the roots area.

Although regular watering of the lawn is more than enough to help the lawn endure until autumn, sometimes it is not possible due to various reasons.

Published: September 11, 2019.

lawn during drought 1

Dry lawn isn't something that any gardener like to see, but sometimes it is inevitable. Or it just happens due to various unpredictable reasons, like malfunctioned programmable hose faucet timer (been there, done that) or similar.

If the lawn is in area with regularly hot summers and lack of rain, with watering restrictions during periods of drought, the best thing one can do is to prepare the lawn for the drought.

Preparing the Lawn for the Drought

Even before the drought happens, there are several things the gardener may do to help the lawn recover in the autumn when rains come.

Clean the lawn from dry or shredded leaves, dry grass clippings and similar dry organic matter.

Mow the lawn as you normally would. During the periods of drought, grass stops on growing - never mow too low, as the grass protects the soil surface from strong sun and decrease the water evaporation.

Also, be sure that the blades are sharp - dull blades damage the grass and that is last what the grass needs during difficult times.

If the grass is still green, don't bag the grass clippings, but also don't let grass clippings suffocate the grass it self - during drought, don't mow more than one-quarter or one-third of the grass height.

Kill the weeds and remove it completely from the lawn (with roots!).

When the lawn is stressed by the lack of moisture, it is also important not to stress the grass with unnecessary traffic of any kind (foot traffic, lawn equipment, kids, pets, vehicles etc.).

In the end, a dormant lawn (grass fully brown) is probably in better condition and will recover faster in the autumn than the lawn that was only occasionally watered with low amount of water (less than 1 inch per 5-10 days, for example).

Lawn Care After the Drought

When temperatures drop and rains come, lawn will recover gradually, but slowly. However, if/when watering ban is lifted, lawn can recover much faster, especially if the gardener help at least a little bit.

First of all, water the lawn with at least 1 inch (25 mm) of water - there is no need to use more water since the grass root system is relatively shallow and all the excess water will simply drain away.

And if it doesn't drain away, than there is drainage issue - heavy rains will make swamp out of such lawn!

Watering should be done early in the morning or late in the evening. Next day, mow the lawn, but not by much, again one-third or 'only' one-quarter will be just fine, but this time bag the grass clippings.

After watering, some gardeners advise not to do anything and simply let the lawn recover on its own.

lawn during drought 2

Personally, I like to add some very fine potting soil to the lawn - such soil help improve the quality of the soil. Also, by adding soil periodically one may try to level out the lawn - when leveling the lawn, it is better to add soil gradually, than just once or twice.

Layer of soil should be rather thin, not more than one-tenth of an inch (2-3 mm). Again, this should be very fine, potting soil.

lawn during drought 3

Spread the soil evenly over the lawn and remove any debris found (dry leaves, weeds and similar), and than water again. This second watering may be done just 1-2 days after first watering - the soil is still moist, but after long drought, the soil often cannot retain much moisture, since there are many cracks and capillaries that simply let the water drain away.

lawn during drought 4

Note: afters second watering, one should hardly see any soil added.

Now, sit back and let the nature do its part. If required, water every 5-10 days, depending on the outside temperature, soil condition and depth, winds, lawn position and similar.

Also, add fertilizers as you normally would - first fertilization after the summer may be done using grass liquid fertilizers, since they can be quickly absorbed by the plants.