While high heats and droughts are an inevitable part of summer, there are things you can do ahead of time to lessen the blow. With the right preparation, you can keep your lawn green as long as possible, even when the rain has stopped.
Incorporate Rainwater Collection
If you rely on rain to water your lawn, you may find that the changing weather has a strong effect on your lawn’s health. When it rains, there’s more than enough water, but your lawn can get parched when it doesn’t. But what if there was a way to keep the extra water from a rainstorm and use it later? Of course, that is entirely possible. All it takes is a little preparation.
You can build a rainwater collection system yourself or purchase one at a local garden or home-improvement store. A rainwater collection system’s essential parts are a catchment area, like your roof, a transportation method, like your gutters, and a storage system, like a giant barrel. Some states regulate rainwater collection, so be sure to check the local laws before you start.
If you purchase a rainwater capture system from a store, it will include an appropriate basin that connects to your gutter and a spigot to attach a garden hose to water your lawn. If you build your own system, make sure that the basin has a cover because uncovered standing water invites mosquitoes and other pests who lay their eggs in standing water.
With a rainwater collection system, you can collect 500 gallons of water per 1,000 square feet or catchment area for every inch of rain. If your lawn is half the size of your roof, one inch of rain can provide enough water to water your lawn twice (assuming you provide the standard one inch of water per watering). If your yard is equal to your roof, one inch of rain equals on watering, and so on. It’s easy to see how this kind of water collection can go a long way toward fending off drought, as long as you have enough storage.
Use Smart Irrigation
During a drought, local regulations may limit how much you can irrigate your lawn if you can irrigate at all. Stored rainwater isn’t included in the limits on irrigation, but even if you don’t have rainwater, you can water more efficiently with smart irrigation.
Surprisingly, when homeowners water their lawns, most of that water is actually wasted by overwatering and runoff. The simplest way to increase your watering efficiency is to water in the early morning, between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m., before the hottest part of the day. Watering while it is cooler reduces evaporation, so your lawn can absorb more precious water. But watering in the morning instead of the late afternoon or evening gives your grass time to dry before the sun sets, which is important because leaving your grass wet overnight creates an ideal condition for fungus growth.
If you want to make your irrigation even smarter, you can purchase a smart irrigation system. Smart irrigation systems use digital technology to control when and how much you irrigate your lawn. The systems are controlled via Wi-Fi and respond to water and soil conditions to deliver just the right amount of water.
Create Ideal Soil Conditions
Part of preparing for a drought is preparing your soil to handle water as efficiently as possible. Sandy soil doesn’t hold water well, and water can drain out of the soil before your grass can absorb it. Clayey soil is dense and does not absorb water well, leading to pooling and runoff. The best soil is loamy soil, containing equal parts clay, sand, and silt, plus humus or organic matter like manure or compost. Loamy soil can absorb and hold water so that it can fully penetrate, and the grass roots have time to absorb it. If your soil is too sandy, you can improve it by adding silty organic matter. If it is too clayey, start by aerating and then add organic matter to loosen it up.
Just keep in mind: A dormant lawn is not a dead lawn. With the right care, your lawn can survive a drought and come back lush and green as soon as the water comes back.