Turfgrass drought tolerance (highest to lowest):
St. Augustine grass
Centipedegrass, Fescue grass, Emerald zoysiagrass and El Toro zoysiagrass
Water needed per week to remain green (inches of water):
St. Augustine grass 3/4
Centipedegrass, Fescue grass 1
Some grasses have the ability to go dormant when suffering from drought. During dormancy, the grass will turn yellow but, if healthy to begin with, it can recover when water becomes available.
Time grass can go without substantial harm (weeks):
St. Augustine grass 6
Centipedegrass, Fescue grass 4
Should you water your lawn?
Using the facts above:
>Take into account personal and professional predictions regarding local weather for the next two months.
>Consider whether or not a total water ban may be imposed in your area.
>Decide if a small area can be watered or if the entire lawn should be left dry.
>Estimate the cost of replacing your lawn if it becomes severely damaged.
-TREES AND SHRUBS-
Selectively hand water trees. The direct application of water to the root zone of the tree, provided it is applied slowly enough to be absorbed by the soil, uses less water and is more efficient than sprinkler irrigation. To avoid runoff when using the hand-held hose, use a water wand or other nozzle that divides the spray into rain-size droplets. Some nozzles have built-in spray pattern adjustments.
>Apply 2 gallons of water for every inch of trunk diameter (measured at 4.5 feet above the ground) for each day between individual waterings.
Example: a 10-inch diameter tree watered 3 days ago would need 60 gallons of water.
Note: a typical garden hose can deliver 5 gallons of water per minute. Sixty gallons would take 12 minutes to apply. Distribute this amount of water under the crown of the tree.
Apply survival-level water every three days when it hasn't rained to recharge the soil water.
>Small shrubs (less than 4 feet in height) 1 minute (five gallons)
>Larger shrubs (4 feet and up) Increase the watering time by 15 seconds for each foot of height exceeding four feet. Example: an 8 foot tall shrub needs 2 minutes of watering (10 gallons)
If runoff occurs before you have applied the correct amount of water, move on to another spot and come back after the water has soaked in.
A soaker hose can effectively water a swath one foot wide on either side of the hose. A 50 foot long hose can water 100 square feet of landscape area. Apply 50 gallons of water per 100 square feet when plants show water stress.
To determine how much water your soaker hose delivers:
>Coil it up and put it in a large plastic garbage bag.
>Cut a small hole in one corner of the bottom of the bag.
>Connect the soaker hose to your garden hose. Turn on the water.
>Suspend the soaker hose (in the bag) above a five gallon bucket. Allow water to drain into the bucket.
>Time how long it takes for the hose to apply five gallons of water.
If restrictions do not allow you to water outdoors at all, prune back shrubs by one-third to one-half when they become severely wilted and begin shedding leaves. This will reduce water demand on the roots and increase their chances of survival during drought.
>Examine plants for signs of water stress (wilting, blue/gray leaves) before you water
>When watering by hand, apply about 5 gallons of water per 10 square feet. This is approximately the amount of water delivered by garden hose operating one minute at medium pressure.
A soaker hose can effectively water a swath one foot wide on either side of the hose. A 50 foot long hose can water 100 square feet of flower bed. Apply 50 gallons of water per 100 square feet when plants show water stress.