Heidi A. Kratsch
Northern Area Horticulture Specialist,
University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
As we start moving toward September and the temperatures begin to cool, you can expect lawns to start looking better and to come out of their relative summer dormancy. When this happens, you should start mowing and watering less and also consider a late-summer application of nitrogen fertilizer. This late-summer application should be done when the average daily temperature for three or more consecutive days is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This promotes a vigorous, healthy root system and a hardy crown without encouraging shoot growth. Determine the average daily temperature by adding the day’s high and low temperatures and dividing the result by two. Avoid “winterizer” fertilizers as those are only for warm-season grasses. We grow mainly cool-season grasses in our area (Kentucky Blue and Tall Fescue).
Here are some additional drought lawn-care tips from the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and the Nevada Landscape Association:
- The best time to water is when it’s cooler—in the early morning or late evening—to avoid evaporation. Remember: there is no watering from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. until after Labor Day, September 7th.
- Don’t water the lawn on windy days; much of it will just be lost to evaporation.
- Leave your grass long. Longer grass promotes a more drought-resistant lawn, reduced evaporation and fewer weeds.
- Water in multiple cycles of 6 minutes each with one hour in between each cycle to allow water to soak into the soil and create a deep, healthy root system.
- Step on your lawn. If the grass springs back, it doesn’t need water.
- Take a sprinkler break. Grass really doesn’t need to be bright green to survive in the summer.
- Examine points where the sprinkler heads connect to pipes or hoses. If you see water pooling in your landscape or you have large wet areas, you could have a leak in your system. A leak as small as the tip of a pen (1/32nd of an inch) can waste about 6,000 gallons of water per month, according to EPA’s WaterSense.