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Lawn Care During Drought

Excessive heat and dry conditions can leave lawns wilted and browning. Watering improperly during drought can result in a less-than-healthy lawn.

The way you manage your lawn will influence the amount of water required to keep it healthy. Increased nitrogen fertilization and thatch build up increase the amount and frequency of irrigation needed.

Raise Mower Height

During dry periods, raise the mowing height and mow with a frequency in which no more than a third of the leaf tissue is removed. Raising the mowing height will allow the grass to maintain a deeper root system, thereby helping the grass to find more water.

Thatch is plant material between the soil surface and leaves of the turf. A thick thatch layer will increase run-off and encourage a shallow root system. You may need to dethatch your lawn if the thatch layer is thicker than half an inch. Aeration will also help slow down thatch development, increase water infiltration and reduce run-off.

When to Water

Irrigate your lawn efficiently and effectively to get the most benefit from the water you're using. Irrigate when you see the signs of moisture stress — a dull and blue-green color, folded leaf blades, wilted blades or when your family's footprints remain visible in the grass.

Water also needs to be applied at the correct time to achieve the best results. Try to wait to water turf until just before wilt occurs.

The ideal time to water your lawn is before sunrise, but this is not easily accomplished unless you have an automatic sprinkler system or you are an early riser. If you can't wake before sunrise, water your lawn between midnight and 10 a.m.

Water loss at night from irrigation is 50 percent less than from midday irrigation. Irrigating after dew develops will not increase disease problems because wet grass is wet grass — no matter how much water is applied. In contrast, if you water before dew forms or after the dew has dried from the morning sun, this will extend the period of time when your lawn is wet and may enhance disease development.



Marilyn Monroe Watering Lawn


How Much to Water

Frequent, light irrigations produce shallow root systems, so soak the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. This will require about a half to an inch of water. Applying water to this depth will help prevent the roots from staying near the soil surface and will force them to grow deeper as the soil surface begins to dry out.

Source:
UGA Cooperative Extension

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