“The fall season is the best time to assess the landscape, your watering strategy, and make any necessary adjustments to safeguard against drought,” said Norman Goldenberg, Landscape Industry Certified, PLANET president. “Homeowners and property owners who assess and renovate their lawn and landscapes in the fall help protect their investment and make the most of the cooler weather and additional moisture that comes along with the fall season.”
PLANET members offer advice on several key steps to drought-proof lawns and landscapes this fall:
Consider Low Water Use Plants or Hydrozoning. Consider planting drought-proof (or low water use) plants or hydrozoning, the practice of clustering together plants with similar water requirements in an effort to conserve water. Plants are typically separated into three water need categories: very low, low, and medium. A landscape professional can help property owners decide how to transition to this type of planting approach.
Audit and Add Water-Saving Tools. It is recommended to have a lawn care or landscape professional audit your irrigation system or, perhaps, install one. An irrigation system may need repair or adjustment, and a professional can also check for water distribution uniformity and make sure irrigation systems are installed and maintained properly.
Fall or winter is the best time for irrigation system design or repair since lawn care professionals are often less busy and rates may be more affordable. Also, consider using rain barrels to retain rainwater for later use in the garden.
Give Grass Some TLC. With cooler weather and more moisture in the fall, growth—and green color—will return to turfgrass. Wait until the cooler weather to aerate the lawn by removing small soil plugs out of the lawn. Aeration allows the roots to go deeper into the soil, increases absorption of rainfall or irrigation, and helps the plants to better draw in water, nutrients, and oxygen.
And, don’t forget to ask your lawn and landscape professional about drought-tolerant turf species that you could overseed in your lawn this fall.
“Turfgrass is incredibly resilient and genetically geared to go dormant in drought conditions, and then green up beautifully when the moisture returns,” said PLANET member Bruce Hellerick, a senior horticulturist.
Prepare the Soil. Use a professional with the know-how and tools needed to break up and amend the soil. A special tool can be used to loosen or “fracture”
“The leading cause of poor landscape performance and drought resilience is improper soil preparation,”
Revisit Your Watering Plan. Check with city ordinances on water restrictions. But, the general recommendation is to water early in the morning when temperatures are cooler. Also, avoid watering on windy days to minimize evaporation. Remember, more damage can be done by overwatering plants.
Together with a certified land care professional, homeowners and property owners can create a drought-resistant lawn and landscape through correct plant selection, advanced watering techniques, and correct soil preparation with an overall goal of healthy plants and water savings, despite summer drought or extreme heat. For more fall planting tips, visit http://www.landcarenetwork.org/
To find a certified landscape professional in your area, visit http://www.landcarenetwork.org/