Conserve Water During Dry Conditions

According to a report from the National Climatic Center in Asheville, NC and the Huffington Post,  “The nation’s widest drought in decades is spreading, with more than half of the continental United States now in some stage of drought and most of the rest enduring abnormally dry conditions.”  As I write this post from my farm on Cape Cod, the thermometer says 88 degrees (though it feels even hotter), much of my lawn looks brown and my flowers, vegetables and normally hearty hydrangea look wilted.  And there have been many days this summer just like this.

We obviously need to water to keep our plants alive. However, we need to think about water conservation too in such dry conditions with little or no rain in the forecast. A lush green lawn is lovely, but turf grass is our largest irrigated “crop” using as much as half of all fresh water used in urban areas each year. Typically, at least half of all water consumed by households is used outdoors. Lawns require two-and-a-half to four times more water than trees and shrubs, and a typical suburban lawn uses 10,000 gallons of water over and above that provided by rainfall in a single year.

What can you do?  Lots…

  • Mow high.  Longer grass encourages longer roots, which require less water and food. It also holds moisture better.
  • Avoid mowing during the hottest part of the day.
  • Don’t mow if you don’t have to.  Save the gas instead.
  • When you do water, water deeply and infrequently.
  • Water between 4 and 6am when the demand is low.  After 10 am much of the water evaporates.
  • Check your automatic sprinkler system periodically to make sure the heads are actually watering the lawn and not the sidewalk or your house.
  • Since there seems to be a trend towards hot, dry summers, consider re-landscaping to minimize grass areas in your lawn, lowering your demand for water.
  • If you can, let your lawn go dormant during this drought period.  Lawns are supposed to go dormant in the summer – we just keep them artificially green by watering.  If your lawn has a good root system established, it won’t die and will bounce back during the cooler temperatures of fall.

    Very green grass, despite the drought

    Very green grass, despite the drought (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Information compiled from and




9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by amy nachman on July 18, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    pretty scary stuff, betsy. thank you for the tips!


  2. Betsy, I would add that we should just stop mowing right now. The grass isn’t growing at all and if it’s a little bit longer than usual, so be it. I’m seeing folks out there mowing (close cropped too!) yellow and brown grass. That’s going to hurt it more than anything and then I’m sure they’ll be out there watering and even applying crap to the lawns to get it back to green. Thanks for posting this and I hope lots of folks read it. I’m going to reblog:)


    • You are so right. I will add that to my post. Why have the carbon footprint if we don’t need it. The local landscape companies won’t be too happy about it, but we all need to rethink silly practices!


  3. Reblogged this on P. C. Zick and commented:
    Here are some good tips from the blog, “What’s Green with Betsy.” Check out her blog – she offers some good common sense tips for living lightly.


  4. Good morning – I’ve nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blog Award. Check out my post at


    • Wow! Thank you. Now what do I do? Answer the questions about myself and post the award logo? I’m honored….


      • Yes – do a blog mentioning my blog and then nominate 15 others for the award. You can put the Very Inspiring Blog Award on your blog site, too. And you’re welcome!

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