In California, brown is the new green

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ART30We’ve written several times about the problems posed by watering a lawn as the heat increases and the summer wanes.  

In California, the Santa Clara Valley Water District is taking it a step further. They’ve just introduced a new campaign called “Brown is the New Green.”

The goal, organizers say, is to persuade residents “to reduce their outdoor watering and let their lawns go a little brown this summer,” according to a press release from the district. “Focusing on how to care for and maintain lawns during this extreme drought, the campaign highlights how a lawn can survive while saving a huge amount of water.”

 As we’ve noted before, frequent watering encourages grass to develop shallow roots – not the deep-reaching roots that help to create a healthy lawn capable of surviving drought, high heat and lots of activity.  And too much water will keep the roots wet, making your lawn more susceptible to disease and insect damage.

 Furthermore, a lawn’s best defense during a drought or high heat is to simply go dormant.  While it will turn brown, that doesn’t mean it’s dead. Like a bear in winter, it’s just conserving energy by storing it. While a bear relies on its fat, an established lawn stores its energy in its roots and gives up on the blades. When cooler weather rolls around, new grass will shoot up. (Young or just-seeded lawns, however, require more water to establish their root system.)

 So take a tip from the Santa Clara Valley Water District, and cut back or eliminate watering your lawn for the rest of the summer. You’ll help conserve water, lower your bill, and help your lawn, too.