Grass is the most durable plant for traffic areas, but it also requires the most water. (You know this, right?) In fact, water consumption can be 10 times greater in the summer due to irrigation. (You suspected this, didn’t you?)
To make matters worse, grass usually is the most labor intensive part of your landscape. The Chelan County Master Gardeners recommend you evaluate your lawn needs and consider replacing some grass with decks, patios and water-wise plants.
A new variety of lawn, Ecoturf, is becoming popular, according to Terry Anderson, Chelan County Master Gardener and coordinator of the Riverfront Park Demonstration Garden. Ecoturf combines grass and low-growing perennials.
Don’t feel like re-doing your yard just yet? Here are some tips for maintaining what you have:
- Aerate. Punch holes in your lawn if it is compacted by traffic or the soil is heavy clay. Adding grass seed will build up the turf.
- Remove thatch. Thatch – last year’s dead stems and roots — can prevent air, water and nutrients from reaching the ground. Remove it with a sturdy rake or rent a power thatcher.
- Mulch. The fine grass clippings will act as mulch to retain moisture. As it breaks down, it will form a natural fertilizer that can meet a quarter of your lawn’s nutrient needs.
- Mow, but not too much. Mow often, but don’t cut shorter than 2 inches. The longer grass will shade the roots and retain moisture.
- Water, but not too much. Overwatering can cause diseases and loss of nutrients from your lawn. Design a system that waters evenly and deeply. Watering thoroughly, but infrequently, makes roots grow deeper and more drought resistant. Grass is best watered with sprinklers that deliver large drops of water close to the ground. Overlap the sprinkler patterns for good coverage. Adjust your watering to compensate for changing seasons and weather conditions.
To keep a lawn healthy in spring and fall, 1½ inches of water per week is sufficient. When temperatures exceed 85 degrees, increase watering to 2 inches or more. This amount of water should penetrate 6 inches into the earth. Check periodically and adjust the schedule accordingly.
(This article is extracted from a longer article on the Chelan County PUD website.)