Don’t Waste Water: Part V
I had a nice chat yesterday with Marnie Brennan of KBZZ, station 1270 AM in Reno, Nevada. She is a member of a growing legion of talk radio hosts who are spreading the organic message, one conversation at a time. Her enthusiasm was contagious.
The subject of our conversation quickly turned to water. I guessed that Reno received about 10 inches of rainfall a year — we just had 6 in the month of June in Maine alone — but Marnie said Reno only gets about 5 inches A YEAR. Homeowners, she said, still like their lawns.
We talked about many of the points we have reviewed here in the past week in these blogs. She brought up a good question that we haven’t talked about though: How to tell if a lawn is dead or just dormant after a long period of drought?
Turning light green and then straw brown is grass plants’ built-in protection mechanism in periods of no rain. Brown is the color lawns are supposed to look, in other words, in July and August in many regions of the country. They most often turn green again when the rains return in September and October.
Lawns will eventually die if they don’t get any water at all. The grass will appear more gray than brown and the difference is really quite evident. The key is to at least keep the crown of the plant alive. About a half inch of rain a month will do the trick. It’s best to apply this water early in the morning, for about 15 minutes, a couple of times a week. Dormant lawns that get a whole bunch of water at once, and then none for another extended period, may break dormancy briefly, but then be more susceptible to death after the big dose of water.
The good news is that when you tend your lawn organically, the lawn will be far more drought tolerant than if you apply chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Drought tolerance, in fact, is the primary benefit of “going organic” on your landscape.