How to Green Your Lawn In a Bay Area Drought
Drought can damage your lawn permanently. More often than not, during a drought, water regulations go into effect. So maintaining your landscape prior to drought with the appropriate amount of fertilizer, combined with best water management practices, will help mitigate damage control.
Areas that do not respond to watering may require a partial lawn renovation which might include seeding, sodding. In drastic cases, a complete turf replacement or renovation might be necessary.
Mowing: Raise the mowing deck of the lawn mowing equipment to shade the roots. This helps reduce the soil temperature by shading the lawns roots, reducing the need for additional watering.
Aerification: Weak turf can be improved with lawn aerification. Cores of soil are extracted from the top 1.5”-2” depth allowing oxygen and water to move into the root zone. When lawns are aerified, turf retains more water than a compacted surface.
Spot seeding: Sparse or thin areas can be renovated by spot seeding. Smaller areas of lawn can be done by hand. Scarify soil prior to seeding to provide ample soil-seed contact. If seeded areas are sparse, cover them with a thin layer of organic compost to help retain adequate soil moisture for proper seed germination.
Irrigation: Most lawn grasses prefer frequent watering, if they are watered deep. To avoid runoff and water being wasted, irrigation needs to be applied slowly or over multiple cycles that allow water to infiltrate slowly into the top 2”-4” layer of the root zone.
Fertilization: Proper timing of slow release fertilizer can help the turf with stand a drought. Over fertilization, especially with fast-release nitrogen, can burn and damage the turf.
Lawn Renovation: As in spot seeding, good soil-seed contact is essential for proper germination and establishment of seedlings. For large turf areas, use a slit-seeder - a modern machine that slices grooves into the soil surface and inserts seeds into the grooves.
Drought Management: For a newly renovated lawn area, it is essential and should receive frequent watering for the first two- three weeks to initiate seed germination. Pesticides should not be used until the lawn is fully germinated.
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