If you haven’t heard we are in a full blown drought in Utah! Governor Cox has asked that we only water our lawns 2 times a week to help conserve our limited water resources. By changing from watering 3 times a week to 2, each yard will save up to 3000 gallons per week!
Also when you do water, don’t water during the day. Water after midnight in these hot temperatures so that the water can really penetrate the soil before the sun can evaporate the water. Right now you’re probably thinking, “But what is going to happen to my landscape if I implement these practices?”
Yes, your lawn will most likely turn brown, but it will not die! If it’s not use to infrequent watering, it will go dormant and should return to green in the cooler temperatures with Fall rains. (It is not recommended to stop all watering as this will kill the lawn which will be an expensive fix and big water user when you have to replace a lawn.)
Make sure your mower is set to 3” height when cutting. Taller grass will help shade the crowns of the grass and encourage deeper root systems. Mulching and returning the grass clippings when mowing also helps to reduce evaporation of water from the soil surface.
If your lawn is still green and healthy, fertilizing will help with the overall health and drought tolerance of the grass, but no need to fertilize the lawn if it’s brown and in a dormant phase.
Trees, shrubs and perennial and annual flowers will die from lack of watering, so make these your watering priority. Water deeply 2 times a week (turn your hose to a trickle and water for 10-20 minutes per plant depending on the size). Shallow watering evaporates more easily and encourages shallow root systems, which will cause stressed plants. Deep infrequent watering develops deeper and more resilient root systems.
Weeds in the landscape are big water users. They are usually the only things that thrive in low water situations, so keep them out and under control.
The encouraging part about forcing root systems to grow deeper on our turf and plants by watering less often (but deeper watering) is that next year, you will be able to continue these practices and your plants will be healthier and stay green with less water!
For more resources on saving water in the landscape, visit www.slowtheflow.org.
If everyone does their part, we can save our precious water resources!