Regardless of where you live, there will probably come a time when you will experience some level of drought.  In fact, drought can occur in virtually all climates.  According to David Miskus, a drought expert and meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center, drought is not just a period of unusually dry, hot weather that persists long enough to cause problems such as crop damage and water supply shortages. He also defines drought as overuse and overpopulation.

While many cities and towns inform residents about drought and water use restrictions, homeowners can probably tell just by looking at their lawn which will slow its growth, wilt and turn brown.  Plants will also show signs of stress by losing their color and begin wilting.  Here are some tips to help your lawn and garden in drought conditions.

  • Adjust mow height – Mow the lawn at a higher height to encourage deeper roots and allow the grass to retain moisture better.  Only mow when the lawn needs to be mowed.
  • Aerate and de-thatch – Allow easy access to the roots by aerating the lawn.  This will allow any water that there is to get down deep to the roots.  De-thatching will encourage growth as well.
  • Change your watering patterns – If water use is still permitted, water only in the morning to stop evaporation from occurring during the warmest part of the day.  Water deeply when possibly.
  • Continue fertilizing -Many people assume wrongly that during a drought they should stop fertilizing.  Drought conditions mean that a lawn is under stress.  This means that to care properly for a lawn under stress you should continue regular feedings. The key is using slow release fertilizer that will not harm or burn the lawn if applied dry.
  • Plan ahead – If you live in a drought prone area plan your plantings and ground cover accordingly.  Buy drought resistant grasses and planting that require little watering.  Buy a rain barrel that can collect water and save our precious resource when you are most in need.
  • Don’t forget about pests!  Lawn and garden pests can still wreak havoc on your lawn and plantings.  Don’t forget to treat for these buggers even in a time of little water.