According to the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), with drought plaguing much of the country, the fall season is the ideal time to assess the condition of lawns, plants, trees and shrubs.
“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.
PLANET members offer the following advice 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 plants together with similar water requirements in an effort to conserve water. Plants are typically separated into three water need categories: very low, low, and medium.
Audit and add water-saving tools. Check for water distribution uniformity and make sure irrigation systems are installed and maintained properly. Also, consider reusing water with 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. But use the cooler weather to aerate the lawn, which allows the roots to go deeper into the soil, more absorption of rainfall or irrigation, and the plants to better draw in water, nutrients and oxygen. Also, use drought-tolerant turf species to overseed lawns this fall.
Prepare the soil. Amend the soil and loosen or “fracture” soil 12 to 18 inches deep so roots penetrate deeper and the application of organic compost or other macro and micro nutrients is well distributed. “The leading cause of poor landscape performance and drought resilience is improper soil preparation,” said Kurt Bland, Landscape Industry Certified, PLANET member.
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 over-watering plants.