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Drought-Friendly Lawn Maintenance

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There are severe water shortages in many parts of the country, and improper lawn maintenance can be a significant drain on municipal water supplies. While lawns can waste resources and damage the environment, they don't have to. When properly managed, a residential lawn composed of balanced soil and the right species of grass can be functional and attractive while conserving natural resources.

Managing the Soil

Soil management is an important part of any lawn maintenance program, including lawns in drought-prone areas. Healthy soil allows plants' root systems to grow and develop, and strong roots help keep plants alive during times of drought. Thatch, compaction, soil composition and poor pH can all have damaging effects on the health of your soil. However, practices such as aerating, de-thatching, liming and composting can help provide ideal growing conditions.

Water Conservation

A primary reason why lawns are vilified during droughts is that some homeowners waste a substantial amount of water keeping them green. Managing water usage can dramatically reduce a healthy lawn's water needs. By installing an automatic irrigation system, you can maximize efficiency by only watering your grass and not the driveway. With a timer, you can customize your irrigation program to your needs, your climate, grass species and soil type.

Grasses That Tolerate Drought

By choosing drought-tolerant grass, you'll use less water than with other turf species. These grasses can withstand long periods without water, and their characteristics have been enhanced through selective breeding. The most drought-tolerant species are buffalograss, fescue and bluegrass, but any grass is only as good as the soil in which it's planted. Before planting new grass, have your soil tested for proper pH and other attributes.

Alternatives to Lawns

If you live in an area severely stricken by drought, it may be best to not start a new lawn at all. There are many ways to provide ground cover and interesting texture that require little to no supplemental watering. Xeriscaping is a popular landscaping method that uses plants requiring little water, which may be appealing to those in drought situations.

Many parts of the United States are in the midst of severe water shortages, and lawn maintenance is one of the first industries affected in a drought. By managing your soil, conserving water, choosing drought tolerant grasses, or considering a landscaping method such as Xeriscape, you can have an attractive yard while conserving water and helping the environment. 

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