While drought and scorching weather has baked most lawns in southern Wisconsin to a golden brown, there is still hope for a green grass comeback. The critical point for whether lawns survive or not is nearing, but there are steps homeowners can take.
The abnormally dry and unbearably hot weather has left grass looking rather dead in much of the lower half of the state. But UW-Extension turf grass expert Doug Soldat says Kentucky bluegrass, the overwhelming majority of what makes up Wisconsin lawns, is tough: like “surviving about 60 days without water” tough. He says although the leaves are brown, the roots and crown hold their own and go dormant until rain comes. Soldat says lawns are ok for now. “It’s not time to hit the panic button just yet, but just keep in the back of your mind that if we see this drought extend another 21 days, we are going to be in that zone where we will start worrying about it.”
Although, Soldat says there are many variables that play into how long a grass plant survives, two months without water can kill a lawn. That can be expensive for homeowners. Mike Sell owns Green Thumb Landscaping in Eau Claire. He says a lot goes into rebuilding a lawn: “You could probably figure anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the size of the lawn, to reseed things and do fertilizing with them and get everything looking nice again at that point.”
But Soldat says you can save your lawn with just a little watering, “So, about a quarter inch a week or maybe a half inch every other week should ensure that that lawn is going to stay alive for another several weeks.”
Soldat says the best time to water is in the early morning. And, he says to be careful not to overdo it, because overwatering during a drought can stress grass and cause disease.