Magazine article Sunset

Giving New Life to Your Drought-Damaged Lawn

Magazine article Sunset

Giving New Life to Your Drought-Damaged Lawn

Article excerpt

For children's play, no other outdoor surface matches the comfort and safety of mowed grass. But four dry summers and water rationing have taken their toll on cool-season lawns (bluegrass, fescue, ryegrass) in many parts of the West, turning them into dusty patches of straw-colored stubble. If you're thinking of replanting a drought damaged lawn, September is the month to start. You can take advantage of the last warmth of summer to kill existing grass and weeds, then use the cooler months ahead to establish the new grass. If water is still in short supply after replanting, consider letting the seedbed sit on the chance that winter and spring rainfall will germinate the seed and maintain the seedlings. That's doing it with free water; however, if water is available, you'll get better germination if you sprinkle the seedbed until grass is sprouted and then as needed until the rains take over. You can also plant in spring. By dethatching the old grass and aerating the soil, you eliminate the need to remove the old sod, rotary-till the soil, and do extensive leveling in preparation for replanting, thus cutting down considerably on labor Lind expenses. (If you want to lay sod, it's better to prepare the soil the hard way.) Dethatching and aerating also improve moisture penetration, making the lawn easier to water than if you had just killed the weeds and reseeded. Keep in mind that grass is a high water user. Before you start a new lawn, decide whether you really need one and if you can afford the extra water it will demand every dry season. …

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