Respect Your Lawn

Did you know that homeowners spend over $6 billion every year to maintain their manicured, green lawns? That’s because the US contains more than 25 million acres of lawn space, and that number just keeps on growing. Watering your lawn can be a huge waste of water, given that lawns are pretty resilient. Grass is able to survive long ­periods without water. Even if your lawn turns brown during a drought, it should bounce back in a few weeks.

So how do you know when it’s time to water your lawn? Try this simple tip: go take a walk on your lawn.


photo from Flickr, by CameliaTWU

This may sound too easy, but it really works. Look back at your footsteps in the lawn: if the grass springs back up after you, it’s well-watered and healthy. If the lawn stays flat, it could probably use some water. Even if it does need water, remember that during dry spells, you can stop watering and the lawn will go brown and dormant. When it gets cooler, the increased amount of dew will re-invigorate the grass, bringing it back to its usual shade of green.

Here are some other ways to improve your lawn’s water efficiency:

  • Keep the grass long! Over-mowing damages your lawn, and long grass (about 3 inches) gives the roots increased shade, which means healthier plants, less evaporation, and less watering.
  • Try using a drought-resistant grass called EcoLawn!
  • Water in the morning (between 4 AM and 9 AM), but not during midday. This is the best way to prevent water loss from evaporation, and it ensures that most of the water you give your lawn will be absorbed into the ground.
  • Don’t water when it’s windy.  Wind increases the speed of evaporation, and can blow the water off-target and away from your lawn.
Dog in Grass

photo from Flickr, by Stuart Dootson

The most important thing to remember is this: your garden and lawn should imitate the naturally growing plants in your climate.  In other words, don’t plant water-loving flowers in a desert climate, or cultivate a special kind of cactus in Seattle. Messing with nature’s roadmap, even if it’s aesthetically pleasing, is a waste of your time and of the earth’s resources.

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