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Rhonda J. Ferree

Rhonda J. Ferree
Former Extension Educator, Horticulture

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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog

Water Saving Tips for landscapes and lawns

When I teach the Master Gardener turfgrass classes, we discuss lawn watering in detail. If you decide to water your lawn to keep it from going into summer dormancy, be sure to water thoroughly and infrequently. One inch a week will keep grass actively growing. Consider the following points as well when watering grass:
  • Do not mow turf too short: 2-3"
  • Do not supply excess fertilizer during hot, dry spells
  • Limit lawn traffic during hot, dry periods
  • Core aerify to relieve soil compaction
  • Maintain thatch levels at ½ inch or less
Additionally Iowa State University Extension offers the following tips for conserving water outdoors.
  • Invest in at least one rain barrel for each downspout on your home. In Iowa, you can collect hundreds of gallons of water to be used for garden and landscape plants. This water is free and conserves drinking water.
  • Irrigate only food-bearing plants and newly planted trees and shrubs.
  • Water outdoor plants at the roots only.
  • Mulch your garden plants after watering by covering the soil with newspaper, cardboard, shredded paper or straw. This will reduce evaporation and conserve irrigation water.
  • Let the lawn go dormant. It will come back to life when there is sufficient moisture.
  • Consider replacing turf with native plantings and groundcovers. The deep roots of native plants offer drought resilience, can prevent erosion (when it does rain) and build nutrients in the soil. There are many drought-tolerant groundcovers that conserve soil moisture and will reduce your future yard maintenance and expenses.
  • Use a broom to sweep debris off of driveways and sidewalks instead of using the hose.
  • If you must wash your car, park it on the lawn, not the driveway. Fill a bucket with sudsy water. Turn off the hose while you scrub. Turn it on to rinse. Or look for a commercial car wash that recycles water.
  • Do not fill swimming pools.

Go to for a complete listing.

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