Ashleigh Smith + photo

Ashleigh Smith

May 9
3 min read
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Drought Train Your Lawn

If you reside anywhere near the intermountain west, you likely see the same drought warnings. This year is looking to be another record low for water levels. This means that you will likely see it affecting your yards or gardens. The good news is you can start preparing your lawns now to take the heat this summer. 

Training your lawn for the coming drought conditions is not as hard as you think. Start by observing your lawn regularly. By observing, I don’t mean looking at its color alone. Look for how it bends throughout the week. Is it looking wilty? Do the blades spring back after walking across it? If it takes longer than normal, it is time to water. In addition to its movement, a bluish color can also indicate a need for water. 

When deciding when and how long to water, keep in mind that it is better to water deeply but infrequently. Your lawn has likely gotten used to being watered in cycles for a few minutes every other day. 

This habit has created a shorter root zone to support your turf. Increasing the amount of time you water will allow more water to sink deeper into your soil. 

You want to follow this method because the soil temperatures are much lower than that of the air. This means water is available in between your watering days. Follow watering deeply with infrequent follow-ups. Expanding the time between watering days will force your grass to develop deeper roots to chase the water left in your soil. 

You will want to apply at least ½” of water over your turf area when you do water. To optimize the amount of water soaked up by your soils, limit watering between 3 am, and 8 am. It is best to water before sunrise as temperatures start rising after this point. If you are watering when the sun is up and temperatures are warming, some of the water being applied will evaporate before it gets the chance to soak into the ground.

To further help your grass survive the hot summer months, mow your lawn at higher settings. This will preserve a greater carbohydrate reserve your grass can access for nutrients and water storage. 

Your lawn will likely begin to brown during the summer, as this is a regular habit when grass enters a dormancy due to high heat. The good news is the precautions you take early on will help it come back with life and green color when fall approaches and temperatures cool.

Ashleigh Smith's photo

I'm Ashleigh Smith, a native to Northern Utah. I first gained a love of gardening with my grandmother as I helped her each summer. I decided to make a career of it and have recently graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Horticulture from Brigham Young University - Idaho. My studies have focused on plant production while I also have experience in Nursery & Garden Center Operations.


True Leaf Market

Hi Connie, we recommend limiting your watering to between the hours of 3 and 8 am. However, there may need to be exceptions for recently planted plants and trees until they are better established. In these cases, hand watering is recommended to better target the water directly to the soil around the plant’s root area. This additional hand watering can help your plants adjust to their new environment without wasting a lot of water. Additional watering needs to be met by hand watering allows you to deliver more water in a short amount of time, thus reducing the amount of water exposed to high air temperatures and being left on plant foliage for evaporation. During high summer temperatures, you just want to avoid watering during high temperatures and times when your water can quickly evaporate. Watering after dark and in the early morning hours allows more water to be soaked up by your plants and soil rather than being lost to evaporation.


Limit watering between 3 to 8 OR Only water between 3 and 8? That sentence is confusing as heck.