How to take care of your lawn after our drought

March 13, 2012 9:12:57 AM PDT
Even with our recent rain, it's hard to forget about last year's severe drought. Many of our lawns are still in recovery mode, and some lawns are dead. That's why in today's Stretch Your Dollar, we found a way to bring them back to life without breaking the bank.

The fastest and easiest way to get your grass looking great is to re-sod. But that may be the most expensive. Other alternatives include planting plugs and going organic.

"Last summer, even though we had sprinklers, it just wasn't enough. And we would be out there with the hose, but it slowly started to die," said homeowner Kim Bereswill.

It was a costly project, but worth it for Bereswill as now her front yard is healthy.

"We did put down new sod, but they did it in such a way they removed the old sod and the old root, so it was an extra step. Then they layered a layer of sand and they put down sod and leveled it," said Bereswill.

Garden Line host Randy Lemmon says if you have to re-sod, now is the time to do it because as we enter the spring planting season, demand for sod will go up and so will the price.

"You're still dealing with a crop that made it to this past winter, that's the affordable crop," said Lemmon. "Once that's gone, all the crops that they are having to rebound with because of the drought, they're going to charge more money for."

Re-sodding your lawn is pretty pricey. In fact, an entire pallet of grass will cost you $130 and that doesn't include the labor to put it down. A good way to Stretch Your Dollar is to actually cut the grass into pieces and plug it into your yard as needed -- that way you don't have to use an entire pallet of grass to finish your yard.

If your yard doesn't need new sod, but is in need of some nutrients, Lemmon says you should go organic.

"The more organic matter we have in our lawn, the better the lawn is going to be in the long run. So why not add the fertilizers that have the organic components to them," said Lemmon.

He says organic fertilizers are getting better. Some have eliminated that awful smell and have a granular texture to them, so it's easier to apply. Over time he says using organics will actually build a stronger root system.

"What we are trying to do is make a buff yard, a buff soil; the buffer the soil, the thicker the root system is going to become and the healthier it's going to be to fight off weeds and insects and absorb moisture much better," said Lemmon.

That means less money you have to spend on herbicides, pesticides and any lawn care products to keep your lawn disease free. Organic fertilizers also help your lawn become drought resistant.

"You are adding deeper, richer soil and the deeper the richer soil, the more drought tolerant you become -- plain and simple," Lemmon explained.

If you are thinking organic is more expensive, it is -- you are looking at $5 to $8 more a bag. Just look for organic fertilizer that covers 3,500 to 5,000 square feet of space to get the most bang for your buck.

So will organic fertilizers green up your yard just as fast as the synthetics? This is the deal with going organic -- it will take some time to get that early green up and several months before you start seeing results of your root system getting stronger, but in the long run it's going to get stronger.