Establishing a Drought-Tolerant Lawn: Why Do It?

When building or maintaining your lawn, it can help to make it as drought tolerant as possible. Why is this important? For several reasons, namely those that help you save on water bills as well as aesthetics.

In recent years, many areas of the country have developed strict water restrictions that limit when and how much water property owners use on their lawns. Because of this, it has become increasingly important to make lawns as drought-tolerant as possible so that it has a better chance of surviving under these restrictions.

Even if you don’t have water restrictions where you live, it may help to cut back on water bills by reducing how much water you are using on a daily or weekly basis. Having a drought-tolerant grass variety on your lawn can significantly cut back on the amount spent on water bills, as well as dealing with complicated irrigation systems, like sprinklers.

Ultimately, drought-tolerant lawns help keep your grass green, even when water sources are limited. This is especially important for not only the appearance of your lawn, but the health of the soil and any plant life that depends on it for growth. 

From the Ground Up: How to Plant Anti-Drought Grass

If you are building a new lawn, you must first remove the all of the weeds from the new lawn site and till the soil within the same area. Add an inch of compost and rake it in the soil. Set a slight grade sloping away from any buildings while planting a drought-tolerant seed variety, such as Bermuda grass. There are also eco-lawn mixes that consume low amounts of water and do not need to be mowed as frequently. 

If you are trying to replace your current lawn with a drought-tolerant grass seed, aerate the lawn and rake an inch of fine compost into the holes. Gradually raise the height of your lawn mower so that it only cuts the very top portions. Reduce watering to two days a week while staying on top of any pest or disease problems.

If you want to create a new lawn from sod, follow the same steps in building a new drought-tolerant lawn, only instead of planting seeds, use sod containing one of the following grass types:

  • Fescues
  • Buffalo
  • Zoysia
  • Bermuda
  • St. Augustine (best for dry winters)
  • Bahia
  • Centipede (best in the shade)

What Happens When Drought Hits Lawns?

Watching grass fade from a lack of water is not a pretty sight. Not only does the grass turn brown, but past a certain point, there is almost nothing that can be done to stop it. The soil dries out completely and the roots of grass become too brittle to save. Thatch starts to develop and unwanted “guests”, like pests and disease, begin making the lawn their next home.

At the same time, lawns that have been hit by drought are not completely unsalvageable. Most grass types tend to spring back to the life once a few days of consistent raining has passed. You can also aerate lawns and re-seed it when the season is right to begin fresh with a brand new lawn.

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