Eleven easy ways to get the greenest lawn on the block, without the accompanying hydro bill.
Trust us: You don't need to spend several hours a week making sure each blade of grass in your yard is perfectly hydrated. Horticulturist Stephen Westcott-Gratton shares his best advice for keeping your grass green–without wasting water.
1. Preparation is key
Dethatch and aerate your lawn every year to make it easier for water to reach the turfgrass root zone.
2. Choose a better grass species
To hell with Kentucky bluegrass! Overseed with a drought-tolerant fescue turf mix such as Enviro-Turf or Eco-Lawn.
3. Don’t overwater
Turfgrass needs only 2.5 centimetres of water per week to remain green and healthy; overwatering can lead to disease. For heavy soil, irrigate only once per week; sandy soil, twice.
4. Take advantage of tools
Buy an inexpensive rain gauge (available at most garden centres and hardware stores) and remember to include rainfall when you calculate your 2.5-centimetre-per-week maximum.
5. Collect rainwater
Purchase rain barrels for all your downspouts; what you don’t use for your containers and beds can be used on the lawn.
6. Water at the right time
Always irrigate early (between 4 and 9 a.m.) so water isn’t lost to evaporation.
7. Install a better sprinkler system
Avoid fan sprinklers that shoot water high into the air (where it’s subject to wind and evaporation); impact sprinklers that deliver water close to ground level are more efficient.
8. Let grass grow
Set your mower blades to 7.5 centimetres high. Taller grass yields deeper, more drought-tolerant roots, and longer shoots provide shade at ground level, helping retain soil moisture.
9. Don’t rake up your grass clippings
For large lawns, use a mulching mower, and leave the finely chopped grass clippings where they lie to add nitrogen to the soil as they decompose, to shade out weeds and to conserve moisture.
10. Go retro
For smaller lawns, use a reel mower. Make sure to roll over each row twice to further chop up clippings. (Added benefit: No loud noise or air pollution.)
11. Embrace your region
Whether your region experiences a wet or dry summer will be the ultimate arbiter of your lawn’s appearance. In a drought, having turfgrass the colour of straw is a badge of honour.