GreenGrass Blog

Tulsa Lawn Care & Drought - Keep it Green or Let it Go Brown?

Posted by Kathy Wilder on Thu, Jul 19, 2012 @ 03:48 PM

Is anyone else tired of hearing the same weather forecast for weeks on end? "100 degrees plus and a 2% chance of rain on Tuesday the week after next, which could be in the form of a downburst which will knock out your power."  Okay, I'm exaggerating a little, but not much!


Lawn care, at this point, is difficult.  Many lawns have gone dormant, because their owners have given up on watering, or because they don't want a huge water bill ruining their budgets, or their city has instituted water rationing.  Other homeowners are trying to water but can't seem to get enough water on their lawns to keep them green.  Some are undecided and don't know whether to keep watering or not.  The picture shows the difference between a watered lawn and an un-watered lawn in this drought.


watered lawn vs. unwatered lawn

If you want to let your lawn go dormant:

  • Bermuda and zoysia lawns ONLY will go dormant in a drought and recover when it rains.  Fescue lawns will simply die without water.  You can reseed fescue late September to early October, but if you let all your existing fescue die, you'll be starting from scratch trying to re-establish it.
  • Try to water a little, like half an inch, at least every other week.  If your lawn gets no water at all, it will have a hard time recovering and might sustain damage.
  • Don't forget the fertilizer on your bermuda & zoysia - the root system of your grass is still active, and fertilizing now will help it recover more quickly when we do get rain.
  • Be sure to water your expensive landscape ornamentals and young trees.  Remember, mulch is your friend.   Even large, established trees may be having a hard time, although damage might not be visible until next year, or even the next.  Trees can be very slow to show drought damage.


NOTE: I had a beautiful, large Dawn Redwood next to my driveway that started dropping leaves last year.  By the time we noticed and started power-watering, it was apparently too late.  It did not leaf out this year.  Dead! 


I found a video from Salisbury Greenhouse about deep root watering for your trees.  Wish I'd had one of those gadgets! I also checked online and and found a deep-root waterer from Lowe's for $19.98, but they were out of them in the stores, and I had to order one.  They don't look as fancy as the one on the video, but I've never used any of them, so can't recommend one over the other.  I'll let you know how it works out when I get it!


If you want to try to keep it green:

  • Instead of a sprinkler, consider turning on the hose and just putting it on the ground.  When that area is saturated, move it to another area.  In this heat, evaporation is quick, and small water droplets sprayed high in the air can disappear before they hit the ground.  A soaker hose would work, also.
  • Spraying your grass with a hand-held nozzle on your hose is a complete waste of time and water, unless you stand there for 30 minutes for each area of your lawn.
  • If you have automatic sprinklers, be sure you're getting full coverage, or you might have some brown spots that are simply not getting watered.
  •  Mow fescue as high as you can, or don't mow at all if it isn't growing.
  • It's okay to keep your bermuda a little higher than usual, but be consistent.  Don't mow it high and then mow it short the next time, or it will definitely look brown.
  • Water as early in the day as you can.  But if  the only time you can water is in the evening, that's definitely better than not watering at all.


And on a completely different note...have anyone ever seen an asparagus fern bloom?  I always plant them in my shade garden as annuals, but this year they all came back, and they are flourishing and flowering!  Adorable little flowers.  I've never seen these ferns flower before - maybe they need to be there for two years?

asparagus fern flowers

Topics: Tulsa drought, not watering your bermuda lawn, watering your lawn, letting your lawn go dormant

Tulsa Drought 2012 Lawn Care - How to Water Your Landscape

Posted by Kathy Wilder on Fri, Jun 29, 2012 @ 07:58 AM

Whew!  Hot!  Have you seen the Tulsa weather forecast?  It goes something like this: 103° - chance of rain 0%, 102° - chance of rain 0%, 101° - chance of rain 0%...(repeat 7 more times...)


In other words - water your lawn a whole lot, or it's going to go dormant and turn brown (bermuda grass or zoysia) or die (fescue grass.)


All grasses needs at least 1" of water per/week to stay healthy and, in this heat, up to 2" per/week. 

 fescue drought stress

Water deeply twice per week .  Deep watering is much more beneficial than daily, shallow waterings.


In serious heat, you may need more water.  You can safely say that when there are "heat advisories" and "heat warnings" you probably need to step up the watering.


Fescue is in serious trouble when it gets this hot.  The picture above shows fescue that is showing signs of heat and drought stress.  The fescue pictured below is still pretty happy!
Fescue is heat-intolerant, not sun-intolerant.  We plant it in the shade here in Tulsa, because it's really too hot for fescue in our zone.  If you have fescue grass, you must water it deeply, twice weekly, and also water it lightly daily to cool it down.  Doesn't hurt to raise your mowing height, also.

healthy fescue 

If you can push a six-inch screwdriver to the hilt into your lawn, you're watering enough.  For more information on how to know how long to water with your particular sprinklers, visit our watering page.


What if you can't water?  If your town institutes water rationing, or if you simply don't want to pay a huge water bill, you can just let your bermuda or zoysia lawn go dormant.  It will turn brown and won't look very nice, but it probably won't die.  Bermuda and zoysia go dormant as a defense mechanism when they don't receive enough water.  When the rains come, it should recover very well.  On the other hand, leaving it dormant weakens it a little, and it may be more susceptible to insects, disease and weed invasion.  Most of the time, though, it comes back fine.


Fescue, on the other hand, will not come back if it dies, and you will need to re-seed it in the fall - between mid-September and mid-October.  Visit our Fall seeding page for more info.


Don't forget the fertilizer!  Even if you can't water, fertilizer is a big part of your lawn care! (Remember, the root system is still active.)  Grass that is fertilized while dormant will recover MUCH more quickly when it does rain, than grass that was not fertilized.  You should also fertilize your plants and flowers, because they are using a lot of energy struggling with this heat.


What are the signs of drought stress?

  • Grass turns a bluish-green.
  • You can see your footprints in the lawn.
  • Sides of the grass blades curl inward.
  • Leaves and stems turn brown, then light beige.
  • The grass goes into summer dormancy.
  • A screwdriver can't be pushed into the soil more than an inch.





Topics: Tulsa drought, watering your lawn