During last years drought, many lawns took a serious beating. Many home owners neglected to water their lawns due to the cost or environmental concerns. We often heard customers say that opposed to watering they were simply going to let the lawn go dormant. The problem with this approach is that in order for lawn plants to survive dormancy in hot and dry conditions they still need at least 1/4 inch of water per week. Without this water, the grass plants will die. As a consequence, we are finding that despite the vigorous spring rains this year, many lawn are not coming back.
What Can You Do Now?
When the lawn has died off, the best way to bring it back is to aerate the dead areas, top dress with at least a 1/4 inch layer of compost and reseed the lawn. Compost is the best amendment to add to the dead lawn because it will quickly break down and alleviate the layer of dead grass. Compost will also add vital nutrient to the soil as well as beneficial microbes, fungus and organic matter.
How to Prevent Future Damage?
A wise practice to help your lawn through future periods of drought is to water your lawn once a week and water deeply (for a longer period of time). When a lawn is watered frequently (more then once a week) and for a short period of time, its root system develops primarily towards the service layer of the soil instead of growing deeper. The upper layers of soil dry out rapidly during the hot dry months making lawns with root systems in these layers more susceptible to drought. By watering infrequently but for a longer period of time (about 1.5 inches) the lawn develops a deeper root system.
The easiest way to gauge how long you will need to run your sprinklers in order to reach 1.5 inches is to place an empty tuna can on the lawn in the sprinkler spray pattern. When the tuna can is full, mark how long it took to fill it and that is the amount of time you should run your sprinklers each week.
By following these simple steps and making sure that your new grass seed is well watered, you should have a lush and beautiful lawn in no time.