Facilitating a Dormant Lawn

We are fast approaching the summer season and temperatures are already starting to hover near the 90s in some parts of the country.  It’s a good time to start considering how you will manage your lawn this summer.  If you live in regions of the US with extremely hot summers and frequent draughts, letting your lawn go dormant during the summer is almost a given.  In milder areas, this decision can be based much more on the amount of time you have or want to devote to your lawn during the summer. It’s understandable that everyone wants a lush, green lawn for all those summer barbeques and fourth of July parties, but sometimes this is both impractical and irresponsible.

Often times, if you see a lawn that has turned brown, you assume it is dead.  However, grass can go up to a month without water and still survive in a dormant state.  The roots of the grass can still survive and the blades will be revived and turn green again once you begin watering. 

If you have a newly seeded lawn or one that is plagued with lawn disease or serious insect problems, it probably will not survive dormancy.  Only healthy, well established lawns are strong enough for a dormant season.  Leading up to letting your lawn go dormant, you should cut your grass slightly higher than normal and with a sharp blade to ensure the least amount of stress on your lawn. During dormancy, it’s a good idea to stay away from fertilizers, because most fertilizers require water to be effective and your grass will receive little water during this time.

Once you let your lawn go dormant, you can wait about 4 weeks before giving it any water.  After that, it will require occasional watering of approximately ½ inch every 2 weeks. This includes rain water, therefore a rain gauge will help you determine if you need to provide any additional water manually.  The exact amount of water necessary varies based on temperature, humidity and they type of grass you have.

A dormant lawn may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, but it will save significant amounts of water during a time of the year when water is already scarce.  It also relieves the burden of having to manage your grass in the brutal heat of the summer and having to plan lawn maintenance around vacation time.