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Should You Completely Stop Fertilizing During a Drought?



Many people associate times of drought as times to stop fertilization. Without water, your lawn and plants aren’t going to do well anyway, so you might as well throw in the towel for your entire Arizona landscaping design, right?


Actually, this couldn’t be more incorrect! Times of drought do not have to be a death sentence for your lawn. Your turf and soil need to be kept as healthy as possible throughout the season, not only for your lawn this year but to establish turf and soil health for years to come. Don’t give up on your turf and its maintenance just because of a drought in Arizona!


Ground Zero Landscaping & Construction is an experienced Arizona landscaping company. Below we break down common myths we hear about turf and soil maintenance during drought and whether or not they are correct. This way you can take charge of keeping your lawn and landscaping in Arizona as healthy as possible, even during water scarcity.



Myth #1: I might “burn my turf” by fertilizing without proper watering.


You actually can and should continue fertilizing in drought conditions, but you do need to be mindful about when you do. Be sure to fertilize right before a scheduled watering. Even if the watering is infrequent, as long as the fertilizer is administered along with water, it will benefit your turf and move directly into the soil and off of the foliage. This way there is less risk of “burning” your plants.


We advise using high quality organic fertilizer, which is already equipped to deliver to roots and crowns. The slight increase in cost of fertilizer will pay off by helping your turf survive this drought and helping you not have to replace it in the future.


Light landscape maintenance & quality fertilizer can help reduce drought stress, improve plant strength and help plants become more drought tolerant.


Myth #2: I should just throw in the towel on my turf for the summer.


Turf management procedures such as “scalping” your turf may seem to make it more manageable and cost effective for the season. However, it will add to your turf’s stress and may burn the roots of your grass since they will be openly exposed to the sun. This could ruin your turf permanently.


Scalping your turf, which simply means cutting your grass low, can be beneficial at other times in the year, like spring, but in the heat of summer you should actually raise your turf height. This allows your grass to create deeper, more robust root systems. Your grass will thank you also since higher grass heights allow the soil to remain cooler, since the sun isn’t shining directly on it. Thus, your grass will be better able to withstand summer drought.


Myth #3: My grass is going to die anyway since water restrictions take everything completely out of my hands.


Turf can actually thrive on just two days of watering a week. Using better watering practices, such as when you water, nozzle spacing, and which types of nozzles you use, can all help you maximize your water and make it go further with less. With these better practices in place, your grass can look amazing, and you’ll be saving money and water!



Myth #4: Since the soil will be so dry during a drought, the water will run off anyway and be a waste of water and money.


You can help your soil maintain moisture even in drought by using products designed specifically to help your soil be more porous. This way it will retain moisture in its subsurface. The soil actually can maintain its own regulation then, as it can retain and release water to the rest of the soil as needed.



Myth #5: I’ll feel bad if my grass looks green because it’ll look like I’m not doing my part to conserve water.


Wetting agents and soil surfactants are both products that can help you keep your turf green while decreasing your water usage. You’ll use up to 30% less water while improving your turf health and appearance.


Keep in mind too that maintaining healthy turf helps keep temperatures lower, by 5 to 6 degrees. Removing turf in the front yard/backyard can make your yard even hotter.


You can actually have better looking turf while meeting or exceeding water conservation efforts, and others can actually be misusing water resources/water supply and using more on their lawns even if they look awful. Being smart about your water use is better for your lawn AND water conservation than letting your lawn go just to appear to be conserving water. Maintaining a healthy lawn actually shows a mindful approach to water conservation no matter the level of drought.


So What Can We Do?


The decrease in water itself is not a death sentence for your landscaping or your budget. Reach out to Ground Zero LC to start evaluating your Arizona landscaping needs and adjustments today so that we can help you prepare for the drought this summer and to be prepared for years to come. If you have any questions about fertilizing during a drought or are in need of landscaping services, we are always happy to help.

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