How you can save your lawn during drought

June 6, 2011 3:19:57 PM PDT
The one-two punch of the heat and the lack of rain have been bad news for our lawns. They are taking a huge hit. That's why in today's Stretch Your Dollar, we have four things you can do to save your yard during this horrible drought.

We welcome today's rain, but it won't reverse the damage that's already been done. Our lawns require some maintenance but the thing is the heat -- on top of a drought it can kill a lawn. Now's the time to be proactive so you don't have to pay for new sod.

At Southwest Fertilizer in southwest Houston, Aaron Moore says customers are bringing their dead grass in for inspection.

Problem number one -- chinch bugs. These bugs feed on the sap of grass plants and during a drought, the problem is worse.

"When it's dry like this, there is nothing else for them to do. They are all going to be going after the grass," Moore said.

Damage develops rapidly, especially in sunny locations, ultimately killing your grass within days.

"This is the kind of thing that people will go on a cruise for 10 days and their sprinkler is not on, they come back home and will not have any grass left," said Moore.

To stop these pests in their tracks, you must treat the area with a pest control. A product called Bug Blaster for $10.99 covers a 5,000 square foot lawn. But the key to applying this control is to treat your entire yard, not just the area that's been infected.

"You can't spot treat these things and effectively eradicate them," Moore said.

To prevent chinch bugs, you can also apply a similar product to protect your yard before they invade it.

Problem number two -- dry, hard soil.

"The soil gets so hard and dry that when you water, it will just sit there in the top layer and it won't fully penetrate," said Moore.

Moore says you can saturate your yard with water for five minutes, let it sit for several hours, then saturate it again for another five minutes. If that is too much work, there's a product called Water-In you can spray on your grass. It sells for $11.99.

"It's designed to pull water deeper into the soil," Moore said.

Problem number three -- trees or bushes that look like they're dying.

Moore says it may not be the lack of rain, but instead it could be the weed and feed you are using that has a chemical called Atrazine. In a drought, your trees and shrubs could die faster because they are already under stress.

"They are going after any kind of water that they can, so they are kind of grabbing everything," Moore told us.

Stop using weed and feed and if you feel like your trees have been poisoned, use a deep root irrigator to help dilute the chemical and salvage your trees.

Problem number four -- your grass has a greenish-yellow tint.

Because of the drought, most of us have been watering so much that we have leached iron and other nutrients out of our grass. You can either fertilize or apply an iron mineral supplement to your yard.

In addition, we called expert Randy Lemmon to ask him why our landscape and grass look so much better after it rains. Lemmon told us it's because rain has the perfect pH level that is slightly acidic, and when that comes down it greens up things instantly. He says irrigation water is too alkaline or too chlorinated.

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