How to Protect Your Lawn from a Drought

Dry, hot weather may be great for beach-bound Ottawa residents, but it can quickly spell disaster for a lush, green lawn. If you're beautiful backyard has become a dry, barren landscape, don't despair. Nutri-Lawn Ottawa can help you inject some life back into your lawn without any trouble. Your lawn doesn’t have to wither away during a drought; with a little patience and a carefully devised watering plan, your lawn will be as good as new in no time.

It's Not Dead – It's Just Sleeping!
Dry heat has a very obvious affect on turf – it turns it a dreary brown colour. This is easily explained by a lack of moisture. Without water, your grass cannot become strong and healthy. But don't worry; your lawn isn't actually dead. It's simply gone dormant. Deep down inside each blade of grass, there is a small area (called the crown) that is still very much alive. A thorough watering from an inground sprinkler system is all your lawn needs to make a full recovery within 10 to 14 days.

Dormancy and Damage
The grass in your lawn can stay dormant for up to six weeks without any lasting effects. If the dry period continues for much longer you will see turf loss. At Nutri-Lawn, we estimate about a 25% loss in turf for every additional week of drought following the acceptable six week period. When you notice your lawn starting to show signs of going dormant, give it a good watering with your inground irrigation system. But don't overdo it! You don't want to drown the grass either. It's also important that you try to avoid walking on the grass as much as possible. If your lawn receives a lot of traffic while in a dormant state, you could cause irreversible damage.

Watch Out for Hairy Chinch Bugs
Unfortunately, dry, dormant lawns are extremely attractive to hairy chinch bugs. These pesky critters move in when your lawn is at its most vulnerable, causing extreme damage to your turf. If your lawn is relatively green, you're chances of spotting hairy chinch bugs is better – simply look for a patch of sunken brown turf in amongst the green. This damage is nearly impossible to see, however, when your lawn is in a dormant condition. If your lawn does not regrow after watering it with an inground sprinkler, you'll know chinch bugs are to blame.

Tips for Keeping Your Lawn Healthy During a Drought
Water is your only weapon against drought-like conditions. Here are some important tips to remember when treating a brown, dormant lawn:

  1. Remember to water your turf once a week with an inground sprinkler system. Set your sprinkler so that it distributes 2.5 centimetres of water on your entire lawn. This may not be enough water to keep your turf from going dormant (depending on the weather), but it will help ensure that it stays healthy.
  2. Irrigate in cycles to avoid water runoff. Dry soils have more difficulty absorbing water, so you may need to apply less water more often to get the right results.
  3. Set your inground irrigation systems to turn on in the early morning to avoid as much evaporation as possible. Watering in the morning also helps prevent the spread of certain lawn diseases.
  4. Finally, the lawn should be kept at 2 ½ - 3 inches in length (do not cut more than 1/3 of the grass plant) and watering should be once every 5-7 days and increased in the summer months to once every 3-5 days when it is hot.