Letting your lawn go dormant for the summer can be an effective way to put a cap on high summer water bills. It can also be a valuable tool if your region is susceptible to long drought periods. Having a type of grass that responds well to drought-like conditions can also help. When maintained properly, your grass can return to looking as good as ever after the summer heat breaks.
Dormancy works best for established, mature yards. Newly planted turf will need sufficient water to establish a healthy root system.
Here are some easy steps to bringing your yard through a summer slumber.
Control the water. The whole idea of letting a lawn go dormant is so you can use less water to maintain it. But it still needs some to stay alive. A healthy yard can usually withstand three to four weeks without water. The amount you give your grass after that depends on how hot or humid your area is. If it’s cooler during that period, try to give your lawn only about one-half inch of water every two to three weeks. If it’s hotter and drier in that time, give your grass a little more to drink. Let the rain do the work for you when you can.
- Shorten the blades. Don’t take off more than one third of the grass blade’s height. Any more than that can put too much stress on the lawn. Let the grass grow a little higher than you normally would to increase its drought tolerance. When you do mow, do it either early in the morning or late at night.
- Go easy on the fertilizer. Dormant grass isn’t as hungry as grass you tend regularly. Give it a light snack instead of a full-fledged meal. Too much can hurt the grass plant.
Watch the weeds. Your lawn might be snoring, but any weeds are still wide awake. Using herbicides can put too much stress on a sleeping yard. Instead, pull weeds by hand, making sure to include the roots.
- Water well after its snooze. When cooler temperatures return at the end of the summer, it’s time to shake your lawn awake. Do this by giving the whole yard a good shower. The water will rehydrate the yard, moisturize the soil and cleanse the grass. It will also give the root system a good jump start.
Also consider putting only lesser used sections of your lawn into dormancy rather than letting the whole yard sleep. That way you can still enjoy your yard and all your outdoor activities all season long.