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Drought Stress 101

About Drought Stress 101


Drought stress occurs when a lawn does not receive enough water to meet its needs, typically due to prolonged periods of dry weather or insufficient irrigation, causing the soil to dry out quickly. Drought stress can negatively impact the health and appearance of your lawn, leading to browning, wilting, and thinning of the grass.


Signs that your lawn may be suffering from drought stress:

  1. Brown or Yellow Patches: Your grass may start to turn brown or yellowish as it becomes dehydrated. This is a common sign of water shortage.
  2. Wilting: Grass blades may appear limp, folded, or curled. When the lawn is stressed due to lack of water, it tries to conserve moisture by reducing the surface area of the leaves.
  3. Footprints Remain Visible: If footprints or tire tracks remain visible on your lawn for an extended period of time, it can be a sign that the grass is lacking moisture and under stress making it harder for it to bounce back.
  4. Slow Growth: During drought conditions, the grass may enter a state of dormancy and slow down its growth. This is a survival mechanism to conserve energy and water. During this phase the grass may appear slower than normal or may not be growing as quickly.
  5. Thinning and Bare Patches: Drought-stressed grass may thin out or develop bare patches as the weaker grass dies off. This can allow weeds to take hold and further compete for limited resources.
  6. Slow Recovery: A lawn that’s suffering from drought stress may take longer to recover after being watered or after a rain shower.
  7. Cracks on Soil: Drought can cause the soil to dry out and can cause cracks to appear.


How to take care of your lawn during a drought?

  1. Water Deeply: When watering your lawn, ensure that you do it deeply and infrequently rather than shallowly and frequently. This encourages the grass roots to grow deeper and become more resilient to drought conditions.
  2. Water Early or Late in the Day: Watering your lawn during the early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler will help reduce evaporation.
  3. Raise Your Mower Blade: Raise your mower blades to at least 3-3.5 inches. This will shade the roots, reduce water loss through evaporation and help retain moisture.
  4. Fertilize: Fertilize your lawn with a slow-release fertilizer to encourage deep root growth and increase drought tolerance.
  5. Mow Less Often: During a drought, it’s important to mow less often to reduce stress on the grass.
  6. Consider Drought-Tolerant Grasses: Consider planting drought-tolerant grasses such as fine fescue, tall fescue, or bluegrass to make the lawn more resistant to drought conditions.
  7. Wetting Agent Application: Using a wetting agent application will help the water soak into the soil and allow the soil to retain more moisture for the grass.
  8. Apply Compost: Applying compost to your lawn will help retain moisture.


Reviving your lawn after a drought

Reviving your lawn after a drought can take some time and effort, but it is possible to bring it back to a healthy state. Similar to how to take care of your lawn during a drought here are some steps you can take to revive your lawn after a drought:

  1. Water Deeply: Water your lawn deeply and thoroughly to rehydrate the roots. It’s important to water deeply and infrequently to encourage root growth.
  2. Fertilize: Fertilize your lawn with a slow-release fertilizer to encourage new growth and repair any damage caused by the drought.
  3. Aerate: Aerating your lawn can help water and air reach the roots, which can help them recover from drought stress.
  4. Reseed Bare Patches: If your lawn has bare patches, you can reseed them to help fill in the gaps.
  5. Mow Correctly: Set your mower blade to a higher setting o help shade the roots and reduce water loss through evaporation.
  6. Monitor Weather Forecast: Keep an eye on the weather forecast and adjust watering schedules accordingly, this way you can avoid watering during a rain.
  7. Be Patient: Reviving a lawn after a drought takes time and patience, it’s important not to over-water or over-fertilize as this can stress the lawn further.

It’s important to remember that reviving a lawn after a drought is a gradual process and it may take some time for your lawn to fully recover. By following these steps and being patient, you can help your lawn recover and return to a healthy state.


What to do if you have a watering restriction in place?

During a drought/water restriction, it is important to take extra care of your grass to ensure it survives, although with restrictions that makes it a little more difficult.

  1.  Water Deeply and Infrequently: Instead of watering your lawn every day, water it deeply but infrequently to encourage deeper roots and better drought tolerance.
  2. Water in the Morning or Evening: Watering in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler helps to reduce evaporation.
  3. Use a Watering Can or a Hose with a Trigger Nozzle: This will allow you to target specific areas and avoid watering the pavement or other non-grass areas.
  4. Mow Higher: Mowing your grass higher helps it retain moisture and shade the roots, which can help protect it from the heat.
  5. Aerate the Soil: Aerating the soil allows water and nutrients to reach the roots of the grass more easily.
  6. Add Compost: Adding a layer of compost around the base of the grass can help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
  7. Keep an Eye on the Weather forecast: If rain is expected, don’t water your lawn.
  8. Consider Alternative Drought-Tolerant Grass: Some grass varieties are more drought-tolerant than others and may be more suitable for your area.
  9. Use a Wetting Agent: Using a wetting agent application will help the water soak into the soil and allow the sol to retain more moisture for the grass.

It is important to follow any specific water restriction guidelines set by our local authorities. In addition, it is important to conserve water as much as possible to ensure an adequate supply for essential uses.


Do I need to reseed lawn after a drought?

Whether or not you need to reseed your lawn after a drought depends on the condition of your lawn and the severity of the drought. If your lawn has only suffered minor damage and has not turned brown or died in large areas, it may be able to recover on its own with proper watering and fertilization.
However, if your lawn has turned brown or died in large areas, reseeding may be necessary to bring it back to a healthy state. Overseeding can help fill in bare spots, thicken up the lawn, and improve the overall appearance of the lawn. It is important to wait until the soil is moist and the weather is warm before reseeding. You should also consider using drought-tolerant grass seed, as these varieties are better adapted to survive in dry conditions.
Additionally, it is important to monitor the soil moisture, and adjust watering schedule to maintain healthy growth. It’s also a good idea to fertilize your lawn with a slow-release fertilizer that contains essential nutrients for growth and recovery.