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The Lawn Guide
Drought Resistant Lawns

What Is A Drought Tolerant Lawn

The drought tolerance of lawns refers to a lawn type’s ability to stay alive and remain green for the longest period of time while under heavy water restrictions, or when receiving no water at all during the Summer.

Equally as important when considering the drought tolerance of a lawn variety is the ability of a lawn to recover itself once it has finally browned off. Meaning that once the lawn looks like it has died off from lack of water, will the lawn recover and become green again once the turf begins receiving water again.

For simplicity, we'll look at the 3 best grass types for drought tolerance and recovery.

Couch Lawn Drought

Drought Tolerance of Couch Lawns

Couch lawn is one of the better grass types when it comes to the grass remaining green for a longer period of time while under water restrictions.

Once the lawn has finally died off from heat and lack of water, Couch will also recover the easiest of all the lawn types.

These abilities are due to the natural vigorous survival nature of Couch, that the lawn will have large amounts of underground runners which will help support the lawn for longer under drought conditions, and will help re-grow the lawn once water becomes abundant again.

Zoysia Lawn Drought

Drought Tolerance of Zoysia Grass

Next in line for drought tolerance is one of my own favourite grass types. Zoysia is very similar to Couch when it comes to having a very high ability to remain green and stay alive for longer under water restrictions and Summer heat.

Zoysia also has very good ability to recover after drought conditions have ended. This is also heavily due to the fact that Zoysia has underground runners to support the lawn, just like Couch has.

In these respects, Zoysia grass types are an excellent choice for homes which face heavy water restrictions combined with Summer heat. Zoysia is less aggressive than some other grass types and requires only low overall maintenance.

Buffalo Lawn Drought

Drought Tolerance of Buffalo Grass

Buffalo grass comes in third place for drought tolerance. With some very good quality and worthwhile brands of soft leaf Buffalo available these days such as Palmetto, Sir Walter, Sapphire and Matilda, there are a variety of buffalo grasses to suit everyones needs and environments.

We won’t go into these different quality traits here, but each grass does have strengths and weaknesses, all of which are covered in depth at The Buffalo Lawn Care Site. So be sure to check these differences to find the best buffalo type for your yard.

Buffalo is a grass that can tolerate full sun as well as being one of the best shade tolerant grasses used as a home lawn. However, over so many years of working in the lawn care industry myself, the differences in quality between Buffalo grass grown in full sun when compared to Buffalo in partial shade can be huge. Buffalo is a grass which does seem to prefer some mild shade to bring it to its best possible health and appearance.

Preparing Lawns For Drought Conditions

The moment drought conditions first start arriving, and this can include when heavy water restrictions are first put into place - is the same moment that it’s time to start preparing our lawns for the greatest chances of ongoing health through these difficult times.

And the easiest things we can do to ensure the ongoing health of our lawns in these difficult times are two things:

  • start mowing the lawn higher - which will greater insulate the soil from evaporation - the higher the better in the most difficult times
  • to stop shallow watering our lawns - and to try to water less frequently (if we still have access to water), and more deeply - which over time will also greatly reduce water usage on lawns, as well as forcing the lawns root system down far deeper into the soil where the soil is far less prone to any type of evaporation from the sun

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A waxy coating on the grains of soil is responsible for the water repelling effect that is often seen in soils, resulting in poor lawn or plant health. In a similar manner to detergents, Wetting Agents will break down this waxy coating, allowing for easier water absorption and retention. Wetting Agents should be included as a normal part of the maintenance routine of every lawn and applied at least twice a year.
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