Long revered as a sign of quality neighborhoods, Sacramento residents and businesses love their lush green lawns. With the ongoing drought, public service messages are urging us to let our lawns go brown, including the memorable “brown is the new green.” It’s tough to let the lawns that we’ve so lovingly planted, fertilized, irrigated and mowed go brown; it goes against everything we know as property owners. But it’s important to reduce water use and know that brown grass does not always mean dead grass.
Brown grass can indicate it’s dormant rather than dead. If irrigation is reduced to the point of the grass turning brown, it can go dormant and if properly cared for, will come back when it begins raining. It’s important to care for dormant grass by watering regularly according to your water district’s requirements. Other watering tips include:
• Watering early in the morning or late at night allows the grass to absorb more water and increase its life span.
• If you choose to fertilize, make sure it is a quality fertilizer that will not burn your lawn.
• Spring is one of the best seasons to feed your lawn, and prevent damage during the hot summer months.
• Pull weeds in and around the lawn as they can absorb the water needed to keep your grass healthy.
If you’re not sure if your grass is dormant or dead, do a tug test by grabbing a handful of grass and pulling. If the grass comes out easily without much force, it may be dead. If it takes a little momentum to pull the grass out, it is dormant.
Dead grass cannot “come back,” but you can replace it through seeding. Rake the area to loosen up the soil and eliminate the dead grass, and seed the area to help a new patch grow. This process has the best results in the fall, with natural rainfall so that the seeds can stay saturated until signs of growth are detected.
If your lawn has died, it may be a great time to replace it with drought tolerant landscaping with bark, rocks or gravel. See www.ecolandscape.org for ideas.
Also important to note, even though brown grass is permissible according to County Zoning Codes, you still need to keep it trimmed and mowed during the drought season.
For more information, see www.saccounty.net/waterconservation.