Brown lawns: water them or not?

Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 4:31 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - The month of May was a bit drier and hotter than usual. Now, you may find your lawn is brown and maybe crunchy. If your first instinct is to water it, you might be wasting water and time.

A brown lawn may not look the best, but during the dry and hot summer months, it’s pretty much inevitable.

“Oh, I’ll tell you at home, my grass is all brown,” said Deborah Micija.

“The only thing that’s not dry is the weeds,” said Lou Cesario.

You may be tempted to pull out the hose and water your lawn. But did you know that won’t help when it’s hot?

“If the temperatures are high, water isn’t going to do any good and you’re just wasting resources and time watering,” said Sue Gwise, horticulture educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension.

She says once temperatures get above 80 degrees, your lawn will begin to “brown out” caused by lack of water and high temperatures.

“People can water their lawns, but if the temperatures are too high, those lawns are still going to go dormant no matter how much you water,” she said.

Dormant but not dead.

“Once the rainfall picks up, the temperatures start to cool towards the end of August, then you’ll start to see that rebound of growth,” said Gwise.

“Unlike grass, plants need a little more TLC in hot and dry conditions. Some flowers should be soaked twice a day every other day.

“Preferably in the morning or late afternoon. You really don’t want to water them in the heat of the sun - middle of the day. The water on the leaves is going to make it burn the leaves. It magnifies the water and is going to make little spots,” said Jonathan Rhodes, vice president of Rhodes Greenhouses.

As for vegetables, the same rules apply.

“What I like to say for vegetables, is you want four inches down. Because you’re not only doing just the area where the roots are, you’re trying to get their surrounding area,” said Rhodes.

The water you save not watering your grass can be used to keep your plants and vegetables in good shape.