Drought Tolerant Grass

droughtDuring the heat of the summer, many homeowners dream of a lawn planted with drought-tolerant grass.  That doesn't have to be just a dream.  You can renovate your existing lawn, planting a drought-resistant variety, and care for your existing lawn in a manner that will make it more resistant to drought conditions.

What is Drought?

Drought is much more than just a few weeks without rain.  According to NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, drought can be defined in several different ways.  Meteorological drought is when an area reeives less rainfall than is typical.  Because different regions naturally receive differing amounts of precipitation, what constitutes a drought changes from region to region.  Agricultural drought is when the lack of available water-through rainfall or irrigation-affects crops.  Hydrological drought refers to the state and amount of surface and sub-surface water.  Socioeconomic drought is when lack of rainfall or available water begins to affect people living in a specific area.  All four designations are cause for alarm, and can result in water restrictions.  When water restrictions are imposed, some of the first restrictions enforced are those dealing with lawn and landscapes.  It is possible to work within the restrictions and keep your lawn healthy.

Drought Tolerant Grass Types

One way to overcome drought situations in the lawn is to plant the lawn with drought-tolerant grass types.  The type of grass that will be best for your lawn depends upon where you live. Cool Season Grasses For a drought-tolerant lawn in cooler, northern climates, consider planting fine fescues.  Hard fescue, creeping red fescue and chewings fescue are three drought-tolerant lawn grasses for the north.  These can be planted in a mixture with Kentucky Bluegrass and Perennial Ryegrass for a drought-tolerant and disease-tolerant lawn. Warm Season Grasses If you live in the humid south, you will need an entirely different set of grasses.  Unlike with cool season grasses, warm season grasses are not usually planted in a mix, but instead one species will be selected for the entire yard, or an entire area bordered by concrete edging, a sidewalk or a driveway. In warmer areas Bermuda grass, Zoysia grass and Bahia grass are the most drought-tolerant varieties.

Keep your Lawn from Succumbing to Drought

Even if you don't have a lawn planted with one of the varieties mentioned above, you can still take preventative measures to make your lawn, as a whole, more drought resistant. Aerate During Good Growing Conditions Aerating during a drought is stressful for the grass; however, aerating and top-dressing with compost before conditions deteriorate can help alleviate compaction, which opens up more space for the soil to hold water and air.  This allows for deeper root growth, which makes it easier for the grass plant to get water. Water Deeply and Infrequently There it is again! We should do a scavenger hunt for all of the times that I write that sentence on this blog.  I wouldn't write it all of the time if it weren't so important!  Watering infrequently encourages deeper root growth.  Watering deeply soaks the soil thoroughly.  Combining the two ensures that there is enough available water for the plants, but that the ground is not over-saturated. Mow High Set your mower blade about 1/3 to 1/2 times taller than you would normally mow.  This will encourage the grass plant to grow more slowly, and grow deeper roots, which will serve it well during drought conditions. It is possible to beat the drought and still have a lush, green lawn.  By planting a combination of drought tolerant grass types and practicing careful cultural controls, you can help your lawn make it through the drought in good condition.
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