Utah is seeing one of the worst droughts in recorded history, and cities are issuing water conservation measures earlier every year. Adapting your lawn care to current conditions has a big effect on water conservation, and it’s easier than you think.
A lot of water conservation efforts take place when you’re planning out the landscaping for your yard. The choices you make during this time will affect on your water consumption for years to come. Planting a diversified landscape that includes trees, shrubs, grass, and gardens will be more efficient than just turf. If you’re not re-doing your entire lawn, consider adding a large planter or two in your yard, or planting a few trees. Even doing this will keep your water consumption down.
When choosing a grass for your lawn, it’s best to pick varieties with deeper roots, because they are more drought resistant. Fescues and Zoyzia are lawn varieties with deeper roots that grow well in the Utah area. Add organic materials to the soil to increase water retention. Aerate before seeding initially, and before reseeding in the spring or fall to allow moisture down into the soil and to encourage deep roots.
Putting 3-4 inches of mulch in flower beds will keep them cool, keep out the weeds, and keep the moisture in. Pick plants that will do well in full sun, as they will require less water. Place plants with similar levels of water consumption in the same areas so you can water accordingly. This will keep you from over-watering.
Once your lawn is in, how you care for it will affect its durability and water consumption. Watering more deeply and less frequently will encourage your lawn to establish deep roots. Watering during the cooler part of the day, between 7pm and 9am will keep the water from evaporating before the lawn can absorb it.
On days where your lawn is still moist in most spots, but needs some extra attention on brown spots, spot watering can nourish the dry spots without over-watering the rest. Adjust your sprinklers that are overspraying onto streets or sidewalks so all the water makes it to your landscape.
When mowing the lawn, less is more during times of drought. Set the mower level to about 3” to allow the blades of grass to grow longer. This will allow the lawn to develop deeper roots that keep weeds away and absorb more water. Clean cuts are healthier for the lawn so sharpen the blade periodically. Using a mulching mower that leaves the grass clippings on the lawn will give it additional nutrients.
Following these water conservation tips will help you keep a beautiful landscape throughout the drought, and conserve water at the same time. In addition to these tips, consult with a professional landscaping company about how you can make your lawn more water-friendly.