Water conservation is a wise idea, but watering your lawn can be necessary during dry spells and droughts. Whether you live in an arid climate or just want to enjoy a tolerant lawn, there are options out there. Growing a lawn that uses less water is easy with the right planning and good choices.
Start With the Proper Grass Variety
It’s important that your low water lawn be planted with the proper grass type. Choose one that is adapted for your climate – cool season varieties for those in the northern part of the continent and warm season types for those in the south. Within those categories there are certain grasses that require less water for healthy growth.
Cool season varieties that have low water needs include most of those in the Fescue family. Warm season varieties include Centipede, Bahia and the ever popular Zoysia variety.
Get the Soil Set
You’ll also need to be sure that your soil is well prepared for water retention and healthy drainage. Too much clay and your grass roots will rot. Too sandy and the plant will not have a chance to gather nutrients from the water. It’s important to add plenty of organics to the soil for a few reasons. In heavier soils the organics add air pockets and when used along with gypsum, can help to create better drainage. In sandy soil the added organics will boost the nutrients and absorb the water, holding it in while the plants are fed.
If your soil is substandard, remove the first few inches and replace with fertile top soil before planting the grass seed or laying new sod.
Roots Need To Be Trained
Roots are the most important element in a low water lawn. If you use proper watering methods from the beginning you can essentially train the roots to extend deep within the soil, past the level where the sun can evaporate the moisture away. In this case your lawn will have ready access to more water even on dry, hot days.
After your lawn has been planted and is beginning to grow, or just after sod has been laid, you will want to cut back on watering. By depriving your lawn of water you will actually be forcing the roots down into the soil, which will be much better for the lawn in the end. Water only when the lawn wilts and stays wilted in the evening. Then water slowly and for an extended period of time, allowing the moisture to soak deeply into the soil. Once the grass has recovered, don’t water again until it has wilted once more.
Keep It Long
No matter what the grass type, longer blades mean less need for water. That’s because the long foliage will shade the soil and help to retain moisture. You should keep it trimmed at that higher level (usually about 1/2 inch or one inch longer than is common) to ensure the grass grows thick and healthy.