How to save water AND keep your lawn alive and looking good—advice from University of California.

We must reduce consumption a little more to avoid very severe restrictions and financial penalties imposed by our imported water supplier.  At least 90% of Crestview water is used outdoors. This excellent University of California publication explains how to keep your lawn healthy with less water:

  • Depending on your type of grass, you can water 25-33% less than optimum and still have good looking, slower growing grass.
  • If necessary, a 50-70% water reduction will allow the grass to recover, again depending on type of grass and conditions.
  • Adjust watering intervals and times according to conditions, especially your soil type.
  • To keep water in the root zone, use two short cycles instead of one long one each watering day.
  • Apply less water in shady areas.
  • Stop overwatering some areas to get enough water to other areas by altering or adjusting your sprinkler zones and spray heads.
  • Mow at the highest setting recommended for your type of grass, and do not cut more than the top 1/3 at one time.
  • Use minimum recommended amounts of fertilizer in the recommended months.
  • Aerate and dethatch but not in summer months.

According to the publication, the type of grass you have makes the biggest difference in drought tolerance and irrigation needs.  “Warm season grasses” such as common and hybrid bermuda grasses, zoysia, seashore paspalum, and St. Augustine require less water than “cold season grasses” which are also common in our “Coastal Valleys and Plains” climate zone.  Once you know what kind of grass you have, the publication helps identify the “optimum irrigation” quantity and the “deficit” condition (25-33% less water) that makes your grass grow more slowly but still look good.  If necessary, you can reduce irrigation 50-70% to “survival” conditions; the grass may go dormant and brown, but it will recover.

The recommended publication is Managing Turfgrasses During Drought from University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (August 2009).  It is 8 pages of clear text and meaningful charts and graphs.

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