What do you do when the rains don't come?
While state climate trends point toward wetter conditions, Illinois can experience the opposite condition: drought. It is frustrating to have increased water bills and watering restrictions. The drought of 2012 offered insights into the importance of water management and learning to manage your landscape with less water. We expect there will be more extreme swings in weather in the future, one week may supply a month’s worth of rain, followed by a month without a drop of precipitation. Illinois Extension helps you build resiliency for your home and community to plan for the extremes so you always have the water you need.
Be water smart.
Illinois Indiana Sea Grant recommends these drought practices for lawns
- Mow at a 3-inch height
Raise the height setting on your mower to three inches or more for a healthy lawn.
- Leave grass clippings
Add nutrients to your soil by leaving grass clippings. It’s a free source of fertilizer for your lawn.
Aerate your lawn in the fall to build soil health and promote moisture retention.
- Water wisely
Measure water received by your lawn with a rain gauge. Water lawns no more than one inch per week, including rainfall (approximately two hours of watering per week). Limit watering to mornings and evenings between 6 to 9 a.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. Let your lawn go dormant in the summer or other dry periods.
- Natural nutrients
Don’t over fertilize. Test your soil to determine proper fertilization requirements and opt for natural, slow-release fertilizers when needed.
- Survey conditions
Remove bare spots by over-seeding with new lawn seed and topdressing with compost.