Water conservation

Watering Tips for Sacramento Lawns During California Drought

California cities are enforcing water-saving measures, the summer heat has crept in early, and your lush green grass is probably starting to wilt.

As reported by the California Drought Information System, 40% of the state is experiencing extreme drought. There is not enough water for wildlife, agriculture and city needs. Among the 40% is Sacramento County, experiencing its driest first year in over 120 years.

In response to the record drought, the city of Sacramento is the subject of an “alert to water”, asking residents to reduce their water consumption by 15% and follow a seasonal watering schedule. Fines for wasting water have doubled.

According to the city, from March 1 through October 31, residents with even addresses can water on Wednesdays and Sundays, while odd addresses can water on Tuesdays and Saturdays. From November 1 to February 28, residents can only water their landscape once on the weekend. Watering is allowed before 10 a.m. and after 7 p.m., the city says.

Residents of the Sacramento area can find local water guidelines from their suppliers using the Régie Régionale de l’Eau’s online map.

When you reduce the watering of your home lawn, there are ways to keep it green.

Identify your lawn type

Determining what type of grass covers your lawn, as well as its soil type and root depth, will help you understand how much water it needs to stay healthy.

According to the California University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, there is grass warm seasonWhich includes grass St. Augustine and Bermuda grass, and cool season grasses, such as tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass. Warm season grass has more heat and drought tolerance than cool season grass.

If you have tall fescue in Sacramento, the organization recommends watering your lawn for 42 minutes per week in May.

Keep your lawn at the right height

According to Davey Tree Expert, taller grass can shade the lawn floor and protect its roots from the heat. In the summer, if you have cool-season grass, the company advises cutting it to 3 to 3 1/2 inches, or 4 inches if you have tall fescue and perennial ryegrass. Warm season grass can be maintained at 2 to 2 1/2 inches.

Monitor your nitrogen fertilizer use

While the lawn needs nitrogen fertilizer, the UCANR warns that excessive use can lead to increased grass growth and increased water consumption.

For the cool season grass, it recommends 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 square feet in March or April and then again in September or early October. Avoid using this fertilizer from May through September, UCANR said.

If you have warm season grass, use 1/4 maximum nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per month between April and September.

It also recommends applying 1 to 2 pounds of potassium per 1 000 square feet in the spring to increase the tolerance of the lawn drought. A A study showed that when plants take in the right amount of potassiumit will improve their water use efficiency, growth and resistance to water stress.

Check your sprinklers and water by hand, if necessary

Make sure your sprinklers are watering your lawn efficiently and not leaking.

If your sprinklers don’t cover your entire lawn, water those patches by hand.

Remember to water your trees

While it is important to reduce watering your garden during the drought, you must continue to water your trees enough.

According to the Sacramento Tree Foundation in 2021, water conservation measures over the past decade have led to tree neglect and a less green canopy in the Sacramento area.

“While healthy trees can recover from short periods of water stress, prolonged periods without water will eventually kill the tree and it may take years before the tree finally succumbs,” the foundation wrote. “Unfortunately, it will take decades to replace the mature trees we have already lost.”

tips for keep your trees hydrated and healthy starting from the foundation include putting natural wood chip mulch over the tree roots and slowly soaking the tree soil when it is dry and crumbly.

What do you want to know about life in Sacramento? Ask our California Utility team your priority questions in the module below or email [email protected]

This story was originally published May 19, 2022 8:46 a.m.

Related Sacramento Bee Stories

Hanh Truong is a service desk reporter for The Sacramento Bee. She was previously a freelance journalist, covering education and culture for PBS SoCal and music for buzzbands.la.