Living in South Florida, seasons of drought are inevitable. While we can see it at any time of the year, drought is most prevalent during the winter months of December through March.
While you may think that your grass needs constant watering during these times, you may be surprised to find out that most turf damage is actually caused by over-watering. Careful monitoring of your lawn and proper irrigation should allow your turf to weather the drought and return green and lush by spring.
Lawn Care Tips to Withstand Drought
- Mow Higher: During a drought, grass does not grow as quickly, and therefore needs to be mowed less frequently. When you do mow a lawn during these dry seasons, mow at the highest recommended height for your grass species; and never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade. Your grass is already stressed, and removing too much of it will only amplify the problem. Leaving the grass high also encourages deeper rooting, which is a key component to drought resistance. Grasses like Bermuda and bentgrass can be mowed to 1″ or lower, while St. Augustine and Bahia thrive at 3″ or more.
- Water in Correct Amounts: If your lawn does not show signs of turf-wilt, it is not yet drought stressed. The three major signs of stress are grass blades which are folding onto themselves lengthwise, your grass taking on a bluish gray tint (as opposed to green), or footprints remaining visible in your grass for a periods of time. Water no more than 3/4 ” in one irrigation cycle.
- Water in the Morning: Even if you are under water restrictions, you can generally mow at least once per week – and for most grasses, this will be enough to keep them alive through the drought. IT is important, however, to irrigate in the early morning hours, so that the water does not immediately evaporate rather than penetrating to the roots. Irrigation cycles should not exceed 60 minutes per zone for rotary or impact sprinklers, and 20 minutes for spray heads. A single watering should not lay down more than 3/4″ of water.
- Avoid Herbicide & Pesticide Treatment: While you may need to spot-treat for problem infestations, your drought-stressed grass is to likely to react well to a chemical treatment. Postpone these treatments until the drought has eased.
- Don’t Fertilize: You may be tempted to add some extra nutrition and encouragement to your lawn during times of drought, but the last thing we want in these times is your lawn growing more grass to support.
- Ensure Uniform Irrigation: During rainy seasons, the rainfall will mask those areas of your lawn which the irrigation system is not servicing correctly. But in times of drought, these areas become painfully evident. If you are not sure if your irrigation system is properly and evenly dispersing water, place shallow pie pans in various zones, then compare the amount of water in each pan after watering is done. Should your irrigation system not be reaching areas of your lawn, call a qualified irrigation specialist as soon as possible. During times of drought, you want your watering to be effective and efficient.
If you have any questions of the proper care and maintenance of your lawn, you can count on the experts at Big Earth Landscape Supply. Whether surviving the drought, avoiding fungus when the rains come, or fighting pesky insects – we have the products and advice you are looking for. Shop online or stop by one of our 4 area locations. We’d love to help you have the most beautiful lawn in the neighborhood – no matter the weather.