MEMPHIS, Tenn. - In California, above normal winter temperatures and record lack of rainfall in select areas of the state are creating stress on lawns, trees and shrubs. TruGreen, the nation's largest professional lawn care service, regularly monitors U.S. weather data to enable the company's trained lawn care specialists to effectively address local agronomic conditions.
In January of this year, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a Drought State of Emergency for California, and is asking for a voluntary 20 percent reduction in water usage. In addition, local agencies have enacted mandatory water restrictions or promoted voluntary cutbacks. Recent late-February rain has benefitted many California lawns and landscapes, but the long-term drought continues and homeowners and businesses should be prepared for the hot summer months ahead.
"Drought conditions are a serious concern," said John Crossmock, director of technical training and support, TruGreen. "Whether drought is present or not, however, we encourage homeowners not to give up on their yards and to practice conscientious watering."
What can be done?
"Homeowners should invest in getting smart about local water restrictions, effective irrigation practices, and grass and ornamental plant types tolerant of extended periods of dry and hot conditions. For TruGreen customers, be sure to reach out to your TruGreen licensed specialist for help. We are actively collaborating with our customers in addressing the drought impact on the health of their lawns and landscapes," Crossmock continued.
Following are general tips to help lawns and landscapes survive a drought and conserve water:
Water Restrictions Awareness: Become familiar with any local watering restrictions related to yards. Light watering too often is not as effective as a slow, thorough watering (about one inch) once or twice a week with the optimum time in the early morning. To ensure uniformity, consider placing a few empty one-inch deep food cans in the sprinkler pattern to measure the amount of water collected after each watering cycle. Adjust watering times and cycles if needed to provide for one inch of water.
Irrigation Efficiency: Ensure sprinkler heads and related water lines are working properly and that the irrigation system provides sufficient coverage. Low water pressure will affect coverage.
Right Plant: Consider drought-tolerant plants and grasses. While mature trees have significant root systems and can typically weather drought conditions, foundation plants and/or new transplants are especially at risk during extremely dry periods. Ask a lawn care professional for a list of plants that best handle heat and dry conditions. Wait to replace plants until fall for best results.
Feed: Lawns, trees and shrubs seek nourishment even during hot weather. Keep fertilizer applications on target to prevent run-off and sweep fertilizer granules that may reach pavement back onto your lawn. Use a trained professional company, such as TruGreen, that offers tailored solutions to lawn and landscape problems based on your region's needs, including drought.
Mowing Schedule: Mow grass as needed and not as a scheduled weekly chore. To help promote moisture retention and to prevent shock, disease and insects, do not cut more than 1/3 of leaf blade. If possible mow in the evening to allow the lawn to bounce back during the cooler temperatures of night.
Mulch: Return grass clippings back to the soil for added lawn nutrients and consider using composted materials to nourish plants. Apply three inches of mulch to base of shrubs and trees to help conserve soil moisture and to reduce weed pressure, but be mindful not to cover the trunk flare of the tree base.
"A healthy turf has a more robust root system than broadleaf weeds or unimproved grasses," Crossmock said. "Vibrant, healthy growing grass helps purify and conserve water resources by reducing runoff and recharging the water table through filtering associated with their root systems."
Says TruGreen, healthy turf also:
. creates oxygen;
. helps cool neighborhoods, blocks, cities and our planet;
. traps dusts and pollens; and
. prevents soil erosion and runoff, and keeps our streams and waterways cleaner