Mowing Grass In a Dry Season

Learn what you need to create a drought-tolerant lawn

Whether you live in a dry climate or are just experiencing a particularly dry season, it's important to pay attention to proper practices when mowing grass during a drought. In the hot, dry summer months, the natural tendency of your lawn is to go dormant and stop growing. This is what causes it to turn brown, and unless you have extreme heat or neglect to water it, the lawn will come back to life in the fall. However, if you're like most homeowners, you don't want an unsightly brown lawn as the backdrop for your summer barbeques. So, you may want to check out these tips to create a healthy, green, drought-tolerant lawn.

Preventing the natural dormancy and creating a drought-tolerant lawn

There are three main things you can do to keep your lawn looking bright and green, even in a dry season. The first is to choose the right seed, the second, to mow correctly and the third, to water properly. Of course, there are tactics you can use to bring your lawn back to health (though most professionals say to let your lawn stay dormant once it has dried), but we'll be focusing on the preventative measures you can take to keep your grass thriving despite the dry spell.

1. Choosing the right seeds

If you live in a warm climate, it may make sense to seed your lawn with a warm-season grass like Fescue. You can also mix this with other seed variations for a fuller, three-season lawn if you reside somewhere more temperate. Just make sure you increase the amount of Fescue in the spring. This will help create a more drought-tolerant lawn as Fescue requires less water to grow and fills in densely, providing shade to the soil that keeps it from drying out as quickly.

2. Keeping lawn mower blades sharp and mowing high

The cut setting on your mower and the sharpness of your MTD lawn mower blades play a large role in maintaining your lawn. Since the grass isn't growing, or is growing at a much slower rate, it's even more important to follow the 1/3 rule when cutting so you don't stress the lawn further. Raise your cut setting as high as it goes and when you cut, leave the clippings on the lawn to provide shade and fertilizer. Then, make sure your lawn mower blades are sharp. Old, dull blades can rip and tear at grass, making what is already stressed from the heat susceptible to disease and loss of moisture. This will turn your grass brown in a hurry.

3. Watering correctly in a dry season

When you're in the middle of a dry season, you need to be aware of how much water you use, especially if you have any local regulations to adhere to. As with mowing in a dry season, there are some go-to best practices to remember for watering in a dry season.  

Watering should always be done in the morning to reduce the amount that evaporates and prevent fungus (which can occur if you water at night). You also want to water deeply about once a week. More than that and you'll encourage a weak root system in your lawn. If you to want a green lawn all summer, you'll need to water weekly and deeply to encourage deeper root systems.

A great way to conserve water for your lawn during a drought is to set up a rainwater collection system.  It's as easy as placing a barrel at the base of your downspout and using the collected water to irrigate your lawn. Then, only water your lawn when it is dry enough that you see footprints after you mow to get the best effect from the least amount of water. Of course, if you're really concerned with controlling water use, it may be best to let your lawn go dormant and only water it enough to ensure it comes back in the fall.

If you follow these tips, you'll be able to maintain your lawn in a way that will keep it healthy in a dry season.

Learn more grass watering tips with this article from MTD Parts' Knowledge Center here: Watering Grass to Keep it Green and Lush All Summer