Landscaping Tips - Stop Fertilizing in Drought? No!

Stop Fertilizing in Drought? No!
Article provided by Bob Franchetto, Horizon

Water restrictions do not have to be a death sentence to turf. Drought conditions are the time when turf and soil should be kept healthy through the season. Here are five myths about turf maintenance during drought and how to combat them.

Myth #1 – "I cannot fertilize because the fertilizer will not get watered in properly and I will burn my turf."

  • Scheduling fertilizer applications just prior to watering periods ensures rapid movement of fertilizer into the soil and off the foliage.

  • Using high-quality organic fertilizer will direct most nutrient activity to the roots and crowns, avoiding the 'burn' that sometimes occurs with water-soluble nitrogen.

  • Improving the soil will help the turf stay healthy enough to survive drought.

  • The time and effort put in today will save time and effort in future repairs and replacements.

Myth #2 – "I should just scalp my turf through the summer."

  • While scalping may seem more manageable, it puts more stress on the turf.

  • Mowing heights should be raised through summer, creating a deeper and more extensive root system, enabling plants to withstand summer stress.

  • Taller grass will allow soil temperatures to remain cooler at the surface.

Myth #3 – "Water restrictions mean my grass will die anyway."

  • Using good water management practices, turf will not just survive but thrive on as little as two days of watering per week.

  • Using controller settings such as cycle and soak will achieve the same or better impact as watering more often without creating runoff from long run times.

Myth #4 – "Water restrictions will dry up the soil, and water will run off regardless of what I do."

  • Focus on soil health by using products that help the soil become more porous, retaining water in the subsurface.

  • Water will be reserved or held in the soil and released as needed rather than running off.

Myth #5 – "If my grass is green, then I'm not saving water."

  • Products such as wetting agents and soil surfactants improve the performance of water applications and fertilizers, reducing water usage up to 30% while resulting in green turf.

  • Turf can reduce temperatures in surrounding areas by five or six degrees, so think about how hot the days can be before removing all the turf.