Forget the glass-half-full comparison. Virginia went from a drought-stricken, “glass completely empty” state to lush and green in a matter of months, and the rain keeps coming.  Right now, there are no drought advisories in Richmond, or anywhere in Virginia. That means homeowners are free to water their lawns according to need, rather than a water conservation schedule.

    What kind of grass?

    It’s helpful to know what kind of grass you have before you begin a watering schedule. Richmond is in a transition area. You’ll find both warm-season grasses, (St Augustine, Bermuda, and Zoysiagrass,) and cool-season grasses, (tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass), here. 

    • Warm-season grasses are generally drought tolerant. The amount of water they need depends on the soil, the location, and rainfall. Generally, you’re looking at 1 to 1.25 inches of water every week for warm-season varieties.
    • Cool-season grasses, like tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass, can go dormant in extreme drought. They turn brown but spring back once moisture returns. That said, cool-season grass lawns typically need about an inch of water a week. Both warm-season and cool-season grasses like a long drink every so often, versus a little bit every day. Be careful not to overwater.

    Rules to know

    During drought emergencies, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality bans the unrestricted irrigation of lawns. But that changes when there is no drought. Still, it’s important to follow some rules, not only to help save water but to keep your grass healthy. Watering early in the morning is best. The early hour prevents the water from evaporating before it ever hits the grass roots. As the sun rises, it also stops the water from creating a friendly environment for fungi that create brown patch and dollar spot for Richmond lawns.

    Another rule of thumb is water deeply and infrequently. If you can give your lawn the inch or so of water that it needs once every five to 10 days, it’s better for the grass. This not only can help prevent fungi from attacking your grass, but it prevents additional stress on your lawn as well.

    You’ll also get more out of your watering schedule if you cut down heavy thatch in your lawn. Heavy thatch can prevent water from reaching the grass roots, leaving you with a wet lawn and dry soil … perfect conditions for brown patch, especially during the hot, muggy days of summer. Removing thatch also allows you to use less water to get the job done, and that’ll save you money when the water bill arrives.

    Virginia can go into drought pretty quickly, so it’s important to keep up with your local TV news or newspaper during predicted dry spells. If the DEQ declares a drought emergency, watering restrictions will go into place, and that’s when it gets a little trickier, trying to balance the needs of the drought-stricken area versus the needs of your grass. Happy watering!

    Have more questions about landscaping and maintenance? Visit our Richmond, VA lawn care page for more guides and additional information.