Lawn Survival 101

Mark Peterson

Many folks are worried sick about their lawns during lengthy droughts. As a tree professional, I can understand and respect your concern, but I cannot really empathize. Grass just hinders the growth of my beloved trees and shrubs.

Regardless, SAWS conservation staff is dedicated to providing the best information available for your landscape. To help your lawn survive the drought, keep these things in mind.

  • Design – Match the species and cultivar of grass to the site. St. Augustine cultivars do best in partial shade and deep soil while Bermuda grass cultivars require full sun. New construction, both residential and commercial, must use a turf grass from the drought-tolerant species list.
  • Irrigation – New lawns need light, frequent watering; established lawns require deep, thorough soakings (short multiple start times in a single day). Avoid stacking multiple programs on your irrigation system and water according to the weekly SIP Watering Advice.
  • Maintenance – Compost lawns in the spring and fall, and aerate at least every other year. Mow high and limit fertilizer. Salts found in most fertilizers make it difficult for plants to absorb water.

The goal of Lawn Survival 101 is not to create a lush, green lawn, but to maintain the health of your landscape throughout the drought without raising your debt ceiling.

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