Good Gardening: Leaving Your Lawn Brown Is The Greenest Thing You Can Do

Jul 6, 2015

Credit John Fischer

Ah the sounds of summer sprinklers  For many people, keeping the grass green is a  long standing tradition.  That tradition was brought from areas that have wet summers, and naturally green grass in July.

  We Oregonians are perfectly willing to question the sanity of a green lawn in Las Vegas, but here?  Given this years drought, and our predictably dry summers, brown should be the new green.
  In Western Oregon, you don't need to water your lawn in the summer.  It will turn brown- let's call it golden- until the first fall rains start, but you'll save a lot of water, and you lawn will be healthier in many ways.  Crane flies, one of the most damaging turf affecting insects, thrive in wet lawns, but disappear if you let your lawn dry out over the summer.
  You may already let your lawn go dormant, but that doesn't mean your work is done.  Friends and workplace grounds managers can be educated on wise water use in two ways.
  One.  Convince them to let their lawns go brown- oops, golden.
  Two.  Make sure they are watering effectively.  Maintaining a green lawn requires about one inch of water per week.  Don't guess about how much is going down, measure it.  Put a few tuna cans- or tofu containers- on the grass when the sprinkles are on so you know how much water is being put down.
  A corporate lawn I checked a few years ago had their sprinklers set to put down 6 inches per week. It was a waste of water, killed the landscape trees, and made the grass an unusable swamp.
  Now if you really want some green lawn in your yard, choose a small section that you use maybe- ten feet by ten feet, and keep it green, while the rest of the lawn goes dormant.
  Turning off the sprinkles won't hurt the grass,  it will help the salmon, and it will eliminate another summer sound  (mower sound) the mower. (mower shuts down).
  With KLCC's good Gardening, I'm John Fischer.