Keeping Your Lawn Healthy During Dry Spells

by | Jun 26, 2023

Everyone loves a forecast filled with sunshine and blue skies. But when the bright, dry days continue for long periods, your lawn can look withered and brown with little to no growth. Currently, most of western and central Lower Michigan is experiencing one of the driest 45-day stretches since 1988. The area received less than ½-inch of rain through mid-June, only about 10% of the normal rainfall.

Keeping your lawn healthy during dry spells offers benefits beyond a green yard. Grass holds soil in place, and the dense roots filter the rain to improve drainage. Here are a few tips from the Sanderson & DeHaan Lawn Sprinkling Systems team that can help you quench your thirsty turf!

1. Optimize Your Watering Areas

Landscapes often need varying amounts of water. An effective irrigation system design ensures the areas in your yard get the necessary hydration to look healthy. Newer trees or vegetable gardens may need more support through a dry summer.

Make sure your sprinkler system’s hydrozones are operating correctly. You may benefit from an audit by an irrigation expert to optimize your system’s function with the available water pressure (and during any water restrictions). While we all enjoy looking at a green lawn, you can let your grass go dormant for a week or two between waterings without long-lasting damage. The grass is resilient, and if it shuts down plant development, it will recover.

2. Give the Soil a Good Soaking

Watering heavily during a dry spell may seem counterintuitive, but instead of delivering a little water daily, set your system to water for a longer time. Frequent light watering can bring your lawn out of dormancy without the support needed to survive.

3. Conserve Water with a Morning Schedule

If water restrictions prohibit watering on the recommended twice-daily schedule, focus on the early morning hours, ideally between 5 and 10 a.m. Avoid watering in the afternoon when peak heat causes evaporation instead of soaking the landscape and grass. Strategic watering can make all the difference in keeping your lawn healthy during dry days.

4. Skip Fertilizing Until Cooler Temperatures Arrive

While many fertilizers contain greening agents, the nitrogen in the mix can burn your lawn if you apply it during excessively dry conditions. The damage shows up as dry, brittle, brown turf that’s unlikely to recover with watering. The SDI team suggests fertilizing aligns with the early spring and fall seasons when drought conditions are usually over in Michigan.

5. Keep Weeding!

The weeds ‘volunteering’ to join your yard do more than undermine the lawn’s appearance. They’ll also compete with your landscaping and grass for nutrients and water. Try to remove weeds when you see them, and consider adding mulch to garden beds as a tactic that stifles weed growth and helps the soil retain moisture.

6. Raise the Mower Blade

You can help your lawn and soil retain moisture by keeping it a little taller during dry spells. By cutting the top one-third of the grass height and leaving 3 to 4 inches of grass, you’ll reduce the lawn’s drying and browning.  Keep in mind that not all mower settings are alike.  The “3” setting on your mower deck may actually be cutting the grass at 2 inches.  The best way to check the mower height is by placing your mower on a hard, level surface, with the engine off. Then, measure the height from the pavement to the bottom of the mower deck to see the length you’re cutting the grass.

If you need support with your irrigation system during the unusually dry Michigan weather, call the Sanderson & DeHaan team at (800)-489-4441 today. Keeping your lawn healthy during dry spells is a team effort, and we’re here to help!


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Sanderson & DeHaan Irrigation
5797 South 12th Street
Portage, MI 49024

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