ALCC Press Release: Drought Survival Strategies for Your Yard

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                          CONTACT: Chuck Montera

June 27, 2012                                                                                                         (303) 778-8355


Drought Survival Strategies for Your Yard
Drought Protection Advice from Professional Landscape Contractors

DENVER, CO – Just ten years ago, Colorado experienced a devastating drought that involved stringent restrictions on watering.  This year’s climate conditions are very similar to 2002 and the US Drought Monitor just published that 100% of Colorado is now experiencing some level of drought.  In light of recent record-breaking temperatures, many homeowners and businesses are struggling to keep their lawns and landscapes healthy.

The Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) is the nonprofit trade association for Colorado’s landscape professionals and has unique insight into methods for the responsible application of water to drought-stressed landscapes.

In the midst of a heat wave and drought, ALCC reminds home and business owners that it’s much more expensive to replace a landscape that dries up and dies than to maintain it with adequate water.  ALCC recommends seven things you can do to keep your landscape healthy while saving water:

1.        Don’t water just because “it’s my day.” Soil moisture is the best indicator of when it really is time to water. An easy way to test for soil moisture is to probe your lawn with a screwdriver.  If it goes into the soil easily, that indicates sufficient moisture but if the screwdriver can’t probe the soil, apply water to that area. Schedule automatic sprinklers to run in pre-dawn hours and if watering with a hose, water late in the evening or early in the morning.  Never water during the heat of the day or when it’s windy.

2.        Take advantage of new technologies.  In 2002 no one had a smart phone and no one had a smart sprinkler timing device, either.  Today, it is possible to have a sprinkler system that’s smart like your phone.  Today’s technology tells the sprinkler system when to water.  This saves water, helps cut water costs and may have municipal rebate opportunities to help defray the purchase price depending on where you live.

3.        Get back to the basics with your sprinkler system.  Review your system to check for faulty parts or sprinkler heads that are watering streets and sidewalks instead of grass. Also consider a water audit of your system.  Brown spots are a sign water is not being applied properly.  Instead of overwatering brown spots, get to the root of the problem by making the necessary repairs and upgrades.

4.        Don’t cut the lawn short during a heat wave.  Instead, raise the cutting height of the mower to 3 inches so that after mowing, there is grass long enough to shade the soil and keep moisture in the soil.  Using a mulching mower that leaves the clippings on top of the lawn also helps prevent moisture loss.

5.        Don’t fertilize your grass right now. CSU turf scientists’ recommend waiting at least until mid-August to fertilize. Stressed grass needs 10 to 21 days to recover and fertilizing will not significantly speed up the process.

6.        Check moisture levels around trees and other plants.  Since trees represent one of the biggest investments in most yards, it is vital to their long-term health that they have adequate water on a regular basis, especially younger trees.  Use a deep-root watering device that attaches to a garden hose. Insert it into the soil about 12 inches deep at several locations within the drip line of the tree.  (The drip line is where rain will fall off the leaves and hit the ground around the outermost perimeter of the tree.)

7.        Make informed decisions if you are installing or renovating a landscape this year. Good decisions about soil improvements, the plants you select and where they are placed, the type of hardscape materials (rock, flagstone, etc.) and drainage options will maximize your ability to end up with a healthy and water-wise landscape you can enjoy for years to come.  Work with a landscape designer who can guide you in water-wise decisions on the front end of your project.


“Healthy landscapes not only increases property values, they make a positive environmental impact,” said ALCC president Barry Wagner.  “Landscaping reduces the heat island effect of pavement to cool our cities as much as 10 degrees, it shades our buildings, produces oxygen and it removes pollutants from the air and water.  For these reasons it is especially important to protect our landscapes during drought.”

The Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) is the premier professional organization for Colorado’s landscape contractors. ALCC celebrates its 50th anniversary this year helping landscape professionals address Colorado’s unique climate and promoting responsible use of water and other natural resources.  To find a qualified landscape professional or subscribe to ALCC’s free lawn and garden “Tip of the Week,” visit and click on ‘find a landscape pro’ or ‘tip of the week.’


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