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How to keep your lawn green with watering restrictions

6 September 2011
How to keep your lawn green with watering restrictions

When Mother Nature provides plenty of rain, it's easy to have a green lawn. But Mother Nature doesn't always give us the consistent moisture that our lawn loves, even if we do a rain dance. That's when the trusty hose comes in, but even that's not such an easy fix. Many people live in areas where there are watering restrictions because of drought or scarcity. How can you keep your lawn green with these restrictions?

The healthier your lawn is, the less stressed it will be in times of low water. Just like your car needing proper and timely maintenance to go the distance, your grass needs to be fertilized, aerated, and thatched regularly each spring and fall to get through summer. If your lawn and topsoil are healthy, your grass develops deep roots and will be able to reach down for moisture instead of relying on artificial watering that oftentimes just sits on the surface and then runs off. This is because the soil is compacted. It could also be that your soil is clay or sand and possibly you never had good topsoil to begin with.

It may be that the type of grass you have is not suited to low watering or drought. If this is the case, reseed with a drought-resistant variety that works well in your area. Do a little homework and talk to seed people who know.

Chosing the best method of watering is important. An in-ground irrigation system is the best, hands down, but obviously takes money to have someone dig the trenches for you and set it all up. If you do it yourself it involves manual labor on your part and a bit of a learning curve. Once in place you can set your sprinklers to go off every other day or every third day with deep watering.

Watering tips:
• Water in the morning before it gets hot. This will keep the water from evaporating before it can do the most good and also keep your grass from getting burned. There may be less wind in the morning and this will help the water land where it's intended; on the grass not on the sidewalk or side of the house. Many water restriction areas insist that you don't water between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. for good reasons.
• Water longer, not more often. You want your grass to be well-watered so the roots can grow deep. Watering everyday but only long enough to barely get the ground wet won't cut it, and water running down the gutter doesn't do your lawn any good either.

Leave the catcher off your lawn mower. When you leave the grass clippings on the lawn, it feeds your grass nutrients and also helps shade any shallow roots. This in turn means your lawn require less water. Plus, it saves you time and labor not having to empty the bag.

When it doesn't rain and you have water restrictions, your best defense is a good offense. Take steps to get your lawn healthy in the spring and fall so that it is better able to cope with drought. Think about reseeding and follow smart watering principles and your grass could look good through the long, hot summer.