Irrigating in Drought Conditions

The Rideau Valley Watershed in eastern Ontario just declared “level two” drought conditions, asking residents to voluntarily reduce their water consumption by 20%. All across Ontario, we’ve experienced a dry spring and summer, with un-irrigated lawns showing brown and dry by late June rather than late August, as we’re used to in a more typical year.

Under extreme conditions, or if you’re in an area where water use reduction has been requested, you may be considering changing your lawn sprinkler schedule. Many people advocate simply not watering at all and letting the lawn go dormant until better weather conditions return.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Your lawn can safely go dormant for about 3-4 weeks without dying or suffering permanent damage
  • If you’re planning on letting your lawn go dormant, make sure it’s as healthy as possible before you do so
  • While it’s dormant, be sure to keep heavy traffic off the lawn – grass cannot repair itself while dormant
  • If the drought lasts longer than 4 weeks, you’ll want to water enough to wet the soil to about 5″/13cm. It won’t green the grass, but will keep it alive
  • Only mow rarely, as absolutely needed – don’t stress your lawn while dormant
  • Be careful about using nitrogen fertilizers during long hot dry spells – they can encourage excessive growth when there’s no water to fuel it and lead to disease

One cycle of dormancy and then back to irrigated conditions shouldn’t hurt your lawn, but it’s not advisable to bounce back and forth between dormancy and active growth – it can stress your lawn out and affect future growth.

Cutting Back Without Cutting Out
You don’t need to cut out watering all together. You can keep your lawn green or greener with minimal amounts of irrigation – 1”/2.5cm per week should be enough to do it.

  • Suggested schedule: irrigate every 4-5 days, using a ½”/1.25cm to ¾”/3.75cm of irrigation water
  • You can leave a container on the lawn as you water if you don’t have a rain gauge to measure the contents
  • Irrigate early in the morning to prevent fungal disease and reduce evaporation
  • Use a slow release fertilizer only as needed
  • Mow the lawn early morning or late evening to reduce stress when it’s very hot, and set your mower at higher levels than you normally would
  • Think about planting more drought resistant varieties of grass and perhaps other plants suited to the area and conditions – ask your local nursery for advice
  • Irrigation that’s too light over an extended period causes shallow root systems

Remember that proper irrigation can often decrease weed invasions and a healthier lawn can survive pests and insects better.

It’s Going to be a Long, Hot Summer
So says Environment Canada. Why not contact FutureGreen Irrigation today for a quote or consultaion on a new residential irrigation system or system renovation today? We keep abreast of the very latest developments and cutting edge technology to provide you with the very best of irrigation solutions designed for any conditions.

The Future Green Irrigation team has over 30 years of experience in installing and servicing residential and commercial lawn sprinkler systems and irrigation systems, using only best-in class products Toro and Rainbird lawn sprinklers.

Explore our site to find out more or contact us today for a free on-site quote by calling (416) 553-7488 in Toronto, (705) 999-0907 in Barrie or Toll Free (866) 936-5296. You and your lawn will be glad you did!

About Future Green Irrigation: Canadian owned & operated, we provide Lawn Sprinkler Systems & Irrigation Systems for homes, businesses and golf courses throughout Barrie, Toronto, the GTA and beyond including Bradford, Aurora, Bolton, Caledon, Innisfil, Wasaga Beach, Collingwood and Newmarket, Ontario.


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