July Lawncare in the Southwest

R. L. Rhodes
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You might not be surprised to learn that the Climate Prediction Center is projecting drought conditions for much of the Southwestern United States at least through July. That means your lawn care plan should concentrate on finding water-efficient ways to sustain your grass through the hot, arid summer ahead.

Irrigation

Water restrictions and the continuation of summer drought can make it difficult to give your lawn the water it needs to thrive. Make sure that your sprinkler heads are strategically placed so as to cover your entire lawn, without wasting water by redundantly watering the same area multiple times. You need only water a couple of times each week, but water deeply each time and watch carefully the first time or two to ensure that you’re not losing valuable water to runoff. Watering early in the morning or after sunset will allow your soil to soak up more of the water before the heat and sun can evaporate it. Installing a rain barrel can help make better use of what little precipitation does fall in your area. For additional tips on how to handle drought stress, see our article on treating common summer lawn care problems.

Mowing

Be careful to avoid “scalping” your lawn. Because it works harder to build blades, grass that is cut too short actually ends up being thirstier than grass that’s allowed to retain some blade length. Setting your the height of your mower blades to 1 and 1/2 or 2 inches will not only help lower your lawn’s demand for water, but give your grass a competitive edge against invasive weeds.

Fertilization

Particularly in areas affected by drought, it’s important to avoid over-fertilizing your lawn. Keeping up with the more rapid growth will mean increasing the amount of water available to your grass. If you’re lucky enough to have ready precipitation or an auxiliary supply of water, consider using a combination fertilizer and pest control like Scotts Turf Builder Summerguard Lawn Food with Insect Control.

(Not sure if the Southwest is the right zone for you? See our zone map for more.)

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