Gardening in a Drought

What if we had a drought and the lawn didn’t notice?

Green Lawn BlogIt’s time to rethink how to use water in the landscape.

Because of the continuing drought, gardeners in the Denver metro area will have twice-a-week lawn watering restrictions starting April 1–no fooling.

Along with these restrictions will be higher water bills for using more water on other parts of the landscape, too.

I remember the summer of 2002 and how difficult it was to keep the garden going with limited irrigation. It was fortunate I had already removed a good deal of lawn the summer before, replacing with low-water perennial flowers, shrubs and bulbs.

I’ve dusted off some of the water conservation tactics I used the last time we had Stage 2 drought restrictions and plan to rely on them again this summer. Here are some of my top tips for gardening in a drought:

Lawn Watering

  • Core aerate the lawn and top dress with a thin layer of compost. This gives the turf some breathing room and helps water reach the roots.
  • Water only if the lawn needs it. Wait until the weather heats a bit before turning on the sprinkler system. Then use the tried-and-true master gardener technique of poking a screwdriver into the soil before watering. Hard soil means it’s time to water.
  • Water only where the lawn needs it. Shaded areas don’t require as much water as unshaded areas.
  • Water for half the allotted time and then stop to allow the water to seep in; then water for the remaining time.
  • Use a hose with sprinkler nozzle to water the driest areas.
  • Tune up the sprinkler system to make sure there aren’t any leaks; add irrigation timers and rain sensors to make the system run more efficiently.
  • Dig up some of the turf and replace with mulch or drought-hardy groundcovers.
  • Don’t allow water to run off the property or to water the sidewalk; channel it so it reaches all areas of the yard.
  • Direct downspouts so any rainwater flows into garden beds and turf areas.
  • Save indoor water to use outside, like shower or kitchen warm-up water.
  • And one final tip…get used to having a less than lush lawn this year.

Do you have any tips to add to this list? Please include them in the comments section.


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