Drought Survival for Your Lawn

With water shortages hit your area, consider these helpful tips for keeping your lawn and landscape as healthy as possible.


Drought is a fact of life most of us have to deal with at some point. Whether the period of abnormally low moisture is long or short, you can prepare for your lawn's survival. Here are some tips from the Turf Resource Center, an international nonprofit organization.

Before the Drought

For existing lawns, maintenance 30 to 45 days prior to an expected drought, dry period, or excessively hot time of year can have a real impact on your lawn's survivability. The idea is to make the lawn as strong and healthy as possible beforehand. Here's how:

  • Reduce thatch and compaction.
  • Reduce or eliminate nitrogen fertilizer and increase potassium fertilizer.
  • Water the lawn late at night or early in the morning.
  • Water infrequently and deeply.
  • Sharpen your mower blade two or three times per season.
  • Mow often so you never remove more than the top third of grass blades.
  • Leave clippings on the lawn.
  • Avoid using herbicides and pesticides.

Do you need to patch a bare spot in your lawn? Figure out how much seed you need with our calculator.

Surviving the Drought

Once the drought hits, or once temperatures reach high levels for a week or more, take these additional steps:

  • Raise the mowing height 25 percent or more.
  • Reduce traffic on the lawn.
  • Increase watering on areas near buildings and other heat-reflecting surfaces as well as high or sloped areas.

Extended Droughts

If the drought is extended or water-use restrictions are implemented, take these additional steps:

  • Eliminate all traffic on the lawn.
  • Restrict watering to the areas that are most important to you.
  • Accept that the unwatered portion of your lawn will be dormant and brown until conditions improve.
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