Friday, July 26, 2013

Tips for a Green Lawn During a Drought

Lehi City hall during the 2013 drought.  In a bad year,
governments need to take the lead in conserving water!

I am not a fan of huge lawns, but that doesn't matter because they are already here and most people like them. What I hate most about lawns is the way people water them. Too often as I walk down the street I see water running over sidewalks and down gutters. This is bad enough on a normal year in the desert, but in a drought it is criminal!

Below are a few tips to get the most out of your lawn without using extra water.
  • Switch from impact heads (old fashioned rainbird sprinklers) and spray nozzles to rotor heads and mini rotor nozzles. Rotors are found in nearly every hardware store, but for the minis you will need to go to a professional sprinkler shop. These shops are always glad to help you, but you may have to wait for the help.
  • Fix any broken lines, heads, and nozzles. If you have leaks you are letting money run down the gutter.
  • Adjust your sprinklers so that all of the water hits the lawn rather than the sidewalk or house.
  • Water slow and deep, the rotors and mini rotors are made to do this. 
  • On sandy soils water will move through quickly, so watering deep will take less time than on clay. On clay and loam soils you should be able to water only once a week if you can get the water deep enough.
  • Get a screwdriver with an 8" blade to test how deep your water is going. Eight inches is about how far down the feeder roots for bluegrass go, so that is how far you are trying to water.
  • Be willing to accept some brown spots on the lawn. Brown during a drought year is a sign of civic leadership!

Good luck, and remember, you can always plant something that uses less water than turf grass.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Drought Loving Flowers

Roses are often thought as being wimpy,
but I find them on many foreclosures. The
white ones with pink blush seem to be
common survivors.

When you live in semi-arid (read that as what most people call a desert) place it makes sense to use plants that don't need a lot of water. I have taken classes and read books on the subject, but the best information I have found on the drought resistant plants is from foreclosed homes.

Foreclosed homes usually don't have sprinkler systems running, so anything surviving there is bound to be tough and adapted to the area. Sometimes a plant will get help from a neighbor overwatering or runoff from the roof. But that's ok, when it is dry you take all the help you can get!

Here are some of the tough plants I have found, tell me what you think:

Apricots are the most drought hardy of the common fruit
trees. This one has gone at least two and a half years
without human irrigation.

Hollyhocks reseed freely and I find scraggly survivors every-
where. This one is flowering better than most seedlings,
likely because of the soil storing extra water from the

Lavender thrives on the dry, even after a
couple of years.