The Q&A Archives: Dormant Lawn

Question: We bought our new house last fall, so this will be our first summer here. Durin the purchasing process last summer, we frequently visited the home. The large lawn looked exceptionally well in the hot summer, and I asked them how often they water. The owner at the time said he does not ever water the lawn, that it goes dormant in the summer and doesn't burn. Is this true? Should I not water the lawn in the upcoming summer months? Even if I had to, I'm not sure how I can water such a large sized lawn.

Answer: It's true that cool-region grasses like Kentucky blue and fine fescue grow vigorously in spring and fall, and go dormant during the heat of summer, but they don't stay green if they're dormant -- they turn brown, and turn green again when fall rains return. If the soil is healthy and spring brings plenty of rain, and you mow your lawn on the high side (2.5-3" tall), then you can reduce the amount of water you provide your lawn. If you don't want the grass to brown, I'm afraid you'll probably have to water (unless there's a naturally high water table on your property that provides plenty of moisture). If it's not practical for you to care for such a large expanse of turf, consider doing some landscaping, adding low-maintenance shrubs and flowerbeds to cut down on the amount of thirsty turf.

For more information on how to care for your lawn and keep it healthy, I suggest that you take a look at a book that National Gardening Association co-wrote: Lawn Care for Dummies: A reference for the rest of us (IDG Books). I refer to it all the time! Enjoy your new home!

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