Wendy's WanderingsWendy Wilber

June 9, 2021

Is your grass greener?

You probably have heard the quote, "The grass is greener on the other side of the fence." And you may have heard "The grass is greener where you water it." During a dry spring in Florida, both are true. I think it is interesting that my neighbors on the other side of the fence violate watering restrictions and irrigate when they are not supposed to and think that nobody notices. They have the only green moist grass in the neighborhood — of course we have noticed! I have half a mind to call the authorities, but then the regular summer rain patterns start and all the yards with turf start to perk up and I settle down. Gardeners, please be sure to check your watering restrictions to help conserve water for all of Florida.

And yes, the grass is greener where you water it, but are you watering the right way for your turf or do you need to irrigate at all? The second Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ principle is water efficiently. Drought-tolerant grasses go into dormancy during dry spells. They grow more slowly or turn brown until conditions are favorable for growth and that's OK.

There are a few things you can do to help drought proof your turf. Mowing high can reduce the need for irrigation. Mowing at the highest recommend length for your turf type results in deep roots which are important in developing drought tolerance and minimizing irrigation requirements. Keeping your lawn mower blades sharp will give you a clean cut; turf cut with a dull blade will need more water. When you do water (on your correct day and time), water just enough to fill the root zone, this is ½ to ¾ of an inch of water. Measure the irrigation water if you need to figure out how long the run time is.

Some neighbors don't irrigate the lawn grass at all. A mixture of turf, native ground covers, and perennial peanut is surprisingly drought resistant and just as green even during a dry spell. So for us, the grass is greener — and has little yellow and purple flowers in it to boot. To learn more about watering efficiently, check out principle two in the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ handbook here (pdf).

-- Wendy Wilber

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