This article was crafted with the help of Brandon Rushing of B. Rushing Lawn and Landscaping, Inc.

Maintaining an attractive lawn can be tricky enough when the weather is on your side; when the weather doesn’t cooperate, your job is even more difficult. Drought conditions, in particular, can lower your lawn’s defenses against pests and spell disaster for grass that is normally healthy and green.

To learn more about maintaining a healthy lawn during long periods of dry weather, we spoke with Brandon Rushing from B. Rushing Lawn and Landscaping, Inc., a Northern Virginia Best Pick.

Signs of a Lawn Problem

lawn with patches of dead grassAccording to Brandon, the primary sign of a dying lawn is brown grass.

“Sometimes the whole lawn will brown,” he says, “and sometimes you’ll see it in patches or spots.” It’s important to note that some grass varieties do turn brown in the winter, but in these cases, the grass has simply gone dormant; the lawn isn’t dead, and its lush, green color will return as the weather warms.

If, however, your area has experienced an extended period of time without precipitation—particularly if temperatures have been warmer than normal—brown grass is cause for concern.

Bringing Grass Back to Health

portable lawn sprinkler on green grassTo give your lawn the best chance of surviving less-than-ideal weather conditions, take action quickly if you notice browning.

Adequate moisture is essential to helping your grass recover from drought and retain the nutrients it needs to avoid damage from pests, so develop (and stick to) a regular lawn watering schedule.

Brandon recommends one inch of water per week divided into two separate watering sessions. If you’re using a garden hose or portable sprinkler, this may mean watering for several hours at each session.

In fact, the biggest mistake homeowners make, Brandon says, is “watering the lawn every day for short periods of time.” Fifteen or twenty minutes of running the sprinkler simply doesn’t deliver enough water to the lawn’s roots.

If you have to work around water restrictions, do the best you can to ensure your lawn gets that all-important one inch of water per week. The best time of day to water the grass is between four and seven o’clock in the morning. Temperatures are cooler in the early morning, so you’ll see less evaporation.

If you can only water once per week, Brandon advises watering for three to five hours to ensure that the water goes deep into the soil. By watering deeply, he says, “the roots will go down for the water and be stronger, deeper, and not so susceptible to burning out with droughts as quickly.”

Preventing Problems in the Future

lawn fertilizer spreader on green lawnHealthy grass takes care and maintenance, but that work is well worth a lawn that will be more likely to live through a drought.

Stay on top of fertilizing and mowing the lawn.

Keep up with your watering schedule.

If you know that periodic drought conditions are simply part of the weather pattern in your area of the country, look into different types of grass. Brandon says that some grass seeds are engineered with a level of disease and drought tolerance that will withstand adverse conditions.

In the mid-Atlantic area of the country, look for turf-type tall fescue for a healthy, green lawn. Bluegrass varieties make for a gorgeous yard, but Brandon cautions that they “require lots more water” than other options.

Keep in mind, too, that the health of your lawn doesn’t have to rest solely on your shoulders. When in doubt, contact a lawn maintenance professional for guidance. A pro will be able to diagnose any potential problems and help you figure out the best course of action to return your lawn to its green glory.


This article was crafted with the help of B. Rushing Lawn and Landscaping, Inc., a Northern Virginia expert in Lawn Maintenance. While we strive to provide relevant information to all homeowners, some of the material we publish may not pertain to every area. Please contact your local Best Pick companies for any further area-specific advice.