Three Ways to Battle Water Restrictions

Everyone is talking about the high possibility of watering restrictions this summer, and they’re probably right. Watering restrictions are terrible for your lawn, granted water has more important jobs like keeping us humans alive. That being said, there will be times this summer when your lawn will look like garbage, mine included. Here are three ways to help your lawn as much as possible…

1) Put a giant, white tarp over it on really hot days. KIDDING! Get an aeration done, and make sure it’s done right. Aeration has an incredible amount of benefits. Want to hear them? 1. Release of toxic gasses from the soil. 2. Improved wetting of dry or hydrophobic soils. 3. Accelerated drying of persistently wet soils. 4. Increased infiltration capacity. 5. Stimulated root growth. 6. Increased shoot growth. 7. Disruption of soil layers resulting from topdressing. 8. Control of thatch. 9. Improved response to fertilizers.1

2) Use a high quality, organic fertilizer with a surfactant. Such a fertilizer can be found at O’Toole’s or other local garden shops. Organic fertilizers help the microbial life in the soil, which will ultimately help battle drought conditions. More importantly, a fertilizer with a surfactant, or wetting agent, will help to utilize every drop of water more efficiently. Water has surface tension, the property that allows you to fill water higher than the brim of your cup without it spilling over. In terms of each drop of water, this is basically the tendency of surface molecules to be attracted to the center of the droplet. That being said, the surface area of contact by one water droplet is relatively small. With a surfactant, the water droplet will lose this tension and spread out more evenly. This can nearly double the diameter of the contact from the water droplet on the turf. Mathematically speaking, when the diameter of the droplet doubles, the surface area quadruples! Incredible, right??? So, we recommend using the fertilizers with the surfactant for the two, mid-summer, fertilizations. These are the June and August applications.

3) Mowing at the perfect height. 2.5 inches. That’s it! Okay, here is my reasoning. Experience. Over all of the different lawns we have taken care of, this has proved to be the perfect height. Any shorter, the grass tends to lose some shade from the shoots and dries out. Any longer it’s hard for a regular lawn mower, other than a commercial mower, to suck the blades up straight and mow them properly leaving them looking like a snowboard bums hair. When the shoot gets too long it obviously takes more water to properly hydrate it. This isn’t desired in a drought condition, clearly.

Recap: Aerate, organic fertilizers with wetting agents (surfactants), mow at 2.5 inches.

1Turgeon, A. J. “Turfgrass Management, 6th ed.” Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc., 2002.

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