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Extension > Garden > SULIS > Maintenance > Sustainable Lawncare Information Series > Watering Practices > Practices to Increase Turfgrass Drought Tolerance

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Practices to Increase Turfgrass Drought Tolerance

The process of conditioning your lawn to withstand these hot dry periods is very important to ensure its survival and ultimate recovery from summer dormancy. Several important items to help condition a lawn to the warm, dry periods of summer are listed in Table 9.1. Also, avoid use of broadleaf herbicides during this stress period prior to summer dormancy as injury to lawn grasses can occur.

Table 9.1. Practices to Increase Turfgrass Drought Tolerance

  • Choose tolerant species
  • Avoid overwatering and gradually reduce irrigation amounts and frequency to minimum survival levels
  • Avoid excessive growth stimulation by nitrogen
  • Maintain adequate potassium levels
  • Raise mowing height
  • Limit traffic 

Generally, there is little that needs to be done to the lawn while it is dormant. However, there are limits as to how much persistent hot, dry conditions our lawns will endure. Note: Extended periods (i.e., usually longer than a week or two) of sunny conditions, temperatures above 90o F. and dry conditions can result in permanent injury to even the best conditioned grasses.

Avoid play or traffic on dormant lawns. Even with properly conditioned turfgrass, applying about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water every two to three weeks on a heavier soil (e.g., clay) keeps the grass plant crowns from dehydrating beyond a point of no recovery. Shorter intervals may be needed on sandy soils or during prolonged periods of high temperatures to achieve the same results. Once cooler temperatures and natural rainfall returns in late summer or early fall, resume regular lawn care practices including irrigation if needed.

Proceed to Recovery from Turfgrass Dormancy

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