Lawn Maintenance Under Drought Stress

Lawn Maintenance Under Drought Stress

Maintaining a lawn can be a challenging task, especially under drought conditions. Drought can prevent plants from getting enough water to survive and grow, causing them to lose their lush green color, and may even lead to permanent damage to your grass. Therefore, it is critical to take care of your lawn during a drought to ensure its survival.

What is Drought Stress?

Drought stress is a condition in which plants experience a lack of water for an extended period. During a drought, the soil becomes dry and compacted, making it difficult for water to penetrate deep into the roots of the grass. This lack of water can cause grass leaves to wilt and turn brown. Grass can become more susceptible to pests and diseases. If left untreated, drought stress can cause permanent damage to your lawn.

Signs of Drought Stress

There are several signs to look for when assessing whether your lawn is suffering from drought stress.

  • Grass blade color change: When a lawn is dehydrated, grass leaves can turn from bright green to yellow or brown.
rotor sprinkler heads
  • Leaf curling and wilting: Grass blades will begin to curl, fold or even wilt when they lose water.
  • Footprints: The lawn does not spring back when walked on and the grass blades do not return to their original state.
  • Increased weeds: Weeds grow more easily in dry soil conditions.
  • Increased pests and diseases: If you notice more pests such as grubs, golden turtles, and armyworms on your lawn, it is an indication that your lawn is experiencing drought stress.

How to Take Care of Your Lawn During a Drought

Taking care of your lawn during a drought requires a few changes to your regular lawn maintenance routine. Here are some tips for maintaining your lawn during a drought:

1. Water Your Lawn Deeply and Infrequently

Watering your lawn deeply and infrequently is the most effective way to ensure your lawn gets enough water during a drought. This means watering your lawn longer, but less frequently. Make sure you water your lawn early in the morning before the sun gets too hot (5 a.m. to 9 a.m.). This will allow the water to penetrate deeper into the soil before it evaporates.
Watering once a week is better than watering a few minutes a day. You can use a RainPoint watering timer to set multiple periods to water your lawn enough to fully absorb the water and prevent water from pooling or being lost.

irrigation system installation

2. Use Soaker Hoses or Drip Irrigation Systems

Soaker hoses or drip irrigation systems can help you water your lawn more effectively during droughts. These systems deliver water directly to the roots of your lawn, reducing evaporation and waste. In addition, they allow you to control the flow of water, ensuring that each area of your lawn gets the same amount of water.

3. Mow Your Lawn at a Higher Height

Maintaining grass height provides shade to the ground and allows for a deeper and larger root system in your lawn, keeping it cooler and helping to retain moisture. Set your mower height between 3.5 inches and 4 inches and mow no higher than 1/3 of the grass blade. Mowing your lawn at a higher height can help reduce the impact of drought on your grass.

4. Aerate Your Lawn

Lawns need enough oxygen during the drought stress phase to help the root system breathe and grow. Aeration treatments can increase the oxygen content of the soil and promote soil aeration. Aeration involves poking small holes in the soil to allow air, water, and nutrients to reach the roots of the grass. This will help the grass grow stronger and healthier, making it more resistant to drought stress.

garden hose spray nozzles

5. Fertilize Your Lawn

Properly fertilizing your lawn during a drought can provide the necessary nutrients to help it survive. However, fertilizing in drought conditions can be quite tricky, and fertilizing in the absence of sufficient moisture can easily increase damage to your lawn, so consult a lawn care professional to develop the right treatment plan for your lawn.

6. Avoid Walking on the Lawn

Walking on your lawn during a drought can damage the grass blades. Minimize walking on your lawn and avoid parking heavy equipment such as lawnmowers or vehicles on your lawn.


In conclusion, maintaining your lawn during a drought requires special care and attention. By understanding the signs of drought stress and implementing the tips provided in this article, you can help your lawn survive the drought. With a little extra care, your lawn can survive even the toughest drought conditions.

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