Turf grass specialist explains what to do if your lawn goes dormant in dry weather

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AMES, Iowa– Due to dry weather conditions, Des Moines Water Works has asked its customers to cut back on watering their lawns by 25%. 

An Iowa State Turfgrass Extension Specialist explained that most Iowa lawns are made of Kentucky Bluegrass or Perennial Rye grass. These grass types need an inch of water a week. By cutting off 25% that is estimated to be three-quarters of an inch of water a week.

Grass Specialist, Adam Thoms, said this water cutback should not kill a person’s lawn. However, it might push grass to go dormant. Dormancy is a hibernation phase where the grass turns a straw brown color.

According to Thoms, lawns only stay dormant for 30 to 60 days. Within that time frame, Thoms said the worst thing you can do is overwater your grass or inconsistently water your grass from week to week. To prevent your grass from dying, Thoms said let your grass go completely dormant.

According to a Purdue Turf Grass Specialist, when a lawn goes dormant water it once every two weeks.

Thoms said the next step would be focusing on future fertilization.

“When the weather conditions improve we want to fertilize the yards, especially this fall/ That’ll help build back up the food reserves, and that’ll thicken your yard back up. So if you did have any thinning from the drought, that fall fertilization can be very important to increasing your turf health,” Thoms said. 

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