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Handout, Turf Management Before, During, and Following Drought in Colorado1 l ~~~,,t.~- -~-~ Turf ~Ianagement Before, Durmg, and Followmg Drought m Cobrado /~ n ~!L 7/~~ )G1 ~-1'Vn/ ~ Dr Tom Koskz Ettensron TurfSpectafur Colorado Stare G'nmers+ry Cooperanve Extensron ~e'"^ `~r.+ Pzeciprtanon, snow pack ~tream tlow and reservo~r levels are s~gmfican[ly lower than h~stonc averages throughout Colorado and [he Rocky Mountam region Durmg nortna! precip~tanon years, landscape ungaaon compnses 50;'0 or more of utban warer use dunng che growmg season in [he Rocky ~lountam rcgton In annc~panon of resmcnons m nuf ~mgaaon [hat may be impo~ed by water uul~ues, commumnes, and other warer-managemenc znnnes, suggested turf managemeat pmcnces are offered for che [ollowmg scenarios No current watenug restnct~ons The followmg practices alfow you ro have a greers lawrt and sn11 reduce water consumpnon • Make sure tha[ the imganon system ~s operattng properly o Replace broken or missmg sprmkler heads o Check chat the spray heads are tummg properly o Ad~ust heads so [hat water is not [hrown onro streecs snd dnveways o Check nozzles for pluggmg ~ o Place yhallow contamers (tuna or cat food cans, yogwt contamers, ztc ) around the yard and measure outpu[ so that you Imow how long « takes to apply '/. to %: mc6 of water o Place conramers on pers~steat dry spots [o detecmme if poor spnnkler coverage ~s t6e problem • Water as mfrequrntly as poss~ble, withou[ causmg undue stress to the lawn o Most Iawns should be able to rolerare bemg tmga[ed every 3S days (or even longer) o Tum your imganon conQOiler to the "ManuaC' posmon (&om `:4utomand') and leam how to opetate tt manually o Dodt ~mgate che Iawn on a set schedule (every 2 or 3 days), law¢ water use can vary ~reatly from one day ro the nert o Imgate when fooipnurs or mower wheel uacks become easily v~s~ble on the twf and lazge areas of ehe lawn rake on a blws6-gray colar o Apply'/. to I mch of water, stowly enough t6at ruaoff and puddlmg does not occur; cyclmg through °""" unganon stanous or movmg your spnnkler around the yazd wlule ~mgaUng helps water ~o soak more W.. thoroughly and evealy ~nto the lawn o Don t watet agam unnl you see abundant s~gns of water suess (footpnnnng, bludgay w(otanon) appenr ~n the lawn o Fland-watenag small or uaLa[ed dry spou can allow you w go another day wtthuuc watrnng the ennre lawn • Water betweea 9 PM and 9 AM, when ~t ~s cooler and there is tess wmd • Avoid heaw or frequmt m~ogen feml~zanon o Lush, fasc-growmg grass uses moce water o Grass rhat ~s lush ~s more likely to be damaged if watermg resmchons are ~mposed • Set your mow~ng height at 2'h to 3 mches (or as high as ~t can be set), don't remove morc than 3/4 mch of gtass at any swgle mowmg, use a sharp blade to reduce ceanng of the grass Ieaves • Be wtlltng to accep[ a less than perfect lawn, rolezate a:ew brown spots and edges m the lawn If watering restnations are anncipated m the neit few weeks The followoeg p~act7ces can help yav prepare jor watertng rutncaons • Reduce (or eLm~aate) mtrogen appl~caaon rares, use slowly available mffogen sources • Do nat de-thatch (powervrake) the lawn ~ Connaue to mow [he lawn at a 3'/x to 3 mch he~gh[ (as h~gh as yow mower will allow) • Conbnue co ¢ngate as mfrequently ss poss~ble, usmg [he ¢nganon nps suggested above • Avmd plannng a¢ew lawn by seed or sod (unless spec~al pamittmg will allow mulapie daAy wacrnngs) o AI.L newly planted (sodded or seeded) (awns (mcluduig buffalog[ass) require frequent (3-3 nmes dady), hght watenng and wdl not sucvrve if resCicnons allow watenng at 2 or 3 day mtervals only o new sod requtres dady watenng For approximately 3 weeks to become established o newly seedea (awns will requ~re da~]y wa[enng for up to 5 weeks to become establis6ed ~ Caring !or the lawn when watenng restncaons are io place R'hen you are allowed ro water only every _' or J dcrys '~~t • A healthy, estabhshed lawn should be able ro remam green when warenng every 3-5 days ,,,,,, ~ • Conunue ro mow at tde proper haght and frequendv enough ro produce only small ,~ass cLppmgs • Resmcc or el~mmate maogrn feml~zanon, use slowLy avazlable narogrn femLzer • Do not de-thatch (powerrake) the lawn • If poss~ble, reduce traf£ic on [6e turf Caring for a Iawn where no watenng is atlowed What to do (and NOT daJ when lawn warermg u prahtb~ted • Rumct tra$ic as much as poss~ble, drought-stressed curf is more eas~ly damaged by ttaffic • Do not apply feml~zers or peshndes ro the lawn • Do w~ coro culnvate (aerate) or de-thatch the lawn • Contmue mowmg unnt gass growth stops, mow m the late evenvig or early mommg when i[ ~s cooler • Kenmeky bluegeass, buffalograss, wheatgrass, mysiagtacs aad bermudagr~ss lawns can become completely docmant (brown) for many mondu (even an enure summer) and survrve wtthout any ¢ngaaon or precip~tanon • Fme fescue lawns can become completely dormant (brown) and survive exunded drought for many months, thev recovery will rauge from spotty to compiete when vngaaon is resumed • A mtl fescue Lawn wdl be thwned (perhaQs severely) once it becomes brown finm Iack of imganon and prenpitauon; tail facue ~s not ab(e W become dortnaut as well as Kentucky bluegiass • Peremial ryegtass lawns will be severely thmned or killed once they becomc bmwn fmm lack of imganon or preapuanon Carmg for the dormant lawn after the watenng proh~bihon is lifted What to da when you can water tke dormant lawn agam • Bluegrbss, buffalogcass, fine fescue, bamudagrass, and mys~agrass lawns w~ll qu~ckly ~an up when watenng ~s allowed; it w~il take some nme for them to rcgam t6ur ongmal nuf quality • Imgate the lawn as if it was new1Y Planted, mnl rt gieeas uP (apPty '/r I mch of wa[er every 2-3 days, unnl ~ g[em-up ~s attawed) ,,,,r • Deep watenng of a do[mant Iawn may be wasteful, smce the dormaat nuf may have ro pmduce a new root sYstem dunn8 the green-uP Process • Once angaaon ~s pecmiss~b(e , coce culavapan (aemnoa) of the lawn is mommended .• Aceas that don't ~eea up or ace thm can be oveeseeded follovnng culhvanan (aecanon) ~ Once greea-up 6as begun, apply 1 pound of maogen per ! 000 square feet of lawn azea Do NOT faNize buffalogiass, bamudagress, or mystagea5s tawns after August 15'", but DO connaue ro wacer them unal fall frostlcold temperawres causes them to baome docmant Fall and wmter watenng wil1 help drought-0aataged lawns to tecover, and w~ll enhance wmter survrval Newty seeded or sodded Iawns MUST be wateied occaswnatly dunng the fall, wmter, and early spnng to ~asure wmter survrval ~/02 "'°~