Homefinder: Drought conditions taking a toll on lawns

Landscape architect says homeowners shouldn’t worry if the grass is brown

Lawn drying up in the heat? Don’t sweat it. Illarion Gallant of Rusnak Gallant Ltd. says homeowners shouldn’t worry about their lawns turning brown during the current drought. After all

It’s been a hot summer in Saanich, and as a result of water restrictions, lawns throughout the district have been drying up, despite homeowners’ best efforts to beat the heat.

Your lawn won’t go green no matter how much you preen, but a mid-summer drought is no reason to pout, according to Illarion Gallant of Rusnak Gallant Ltd. The landscape architect said homeowners shouldn’t worry about their lawns drying up three months of the year – it’s only natural for grass to dehydrate in this kind of weather.

“A lawn doesn’t die when it goes brown, it just goes dormant,” he said. “If a client was coming to me and asking me, I’d say, ‘Go with the reality of nature and allow your grass to go dormant.’”

While he admits it’s not the nicest thing for some homeowners to hear, Gallant said it’s really the only option in this severe heat, with the current drought in B.C. prompting harsher restrictions for the most green-thumbed citizens.

“Usually what happens in a drought situation, you’re allowed to water new lawns, water new plants – you can’t even do that in Vancouver now. The drought situation’s very serious.”

Gallant said attitudes about how a lawn should look are somewhat generational, with older homeowners seeing lush lawns as a status symbol while younger residents more or less go with the flow (or lack of).

“The 1960s middle class esthetic was green lawns, and that meant fertilizer and a lot of water,” said Gallant. “The new middle class esthetic is either long grass or you go brown.”

When designing a garden, Gallant said homeowners can opt for longer grass that tends to withstand drought better because it provides more shade on the soil surface and has a lower rate of evapotranspiration, the process by which water is transferred to the atmosphere by evaporation from soil and by transpiration from plants.

“If you’re out in the sun and you have long hair, your scalp is a little cooler than if you had a shaved head – it’s the same thing when you have a mowed lawn. You don’t really have shade on the soil surface, so you have a higher rate evapotranspiration.”

When preparing to lay down a new lawn, Gallant said it’s better to have 12 to 18 inches of soil to create optimum conditions for water retention.

“It creates enough of a planting medium to hold moisture, but also gives it an opportunity for rooting,” he said. “Eighteen inches is luxury, 12 inches is achievable.”

Gallant also recommended against using a lot of clay, noting homeowners should opt for a larger amount of sand.

“In soil, you have to have some percentage of clay, like 18 or 19 per cent,” he said. “But in my lawns, I like to have 60 to 65 per cent sand to give it structure.”

However, for existing lawns, the options are limited short of tearing up the lawn and putting in more drought-resistant grass. For the practical gardener, Gallant said it’s best to just ride out the heat wave.

“Of course you can water it as much as you can before you get into water restrictions, but what happens is with the heat, the water table goes down and it goes brown. For established gardens… there’s not much you can do.”





Just Posted

Quebec City beats Victoria for lowest unemployment rate in Canada

Victoria’s unemployment rate was 3.2 per cent in October

Chance of rain ahead for Monday

Plus a look ahead at the weekend

Greater Victoria’s biggest home show seeks vendors that fit the new green theme

Home and Garden Expo to focus on sustainability, green living, energy efficiency for first time

Russell Books marks opening of new location by setting Guinness World Record

Store stacks world record books more than six metres high

Teen with cancer whose viral video urged Canadians to vote has died, uncle tweets

Maddison Yetman had been looking forward to voting in her first federal election since junior high school

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Stelly’s Stingers book ticket to provincial championships

Senior girls volleyball team places second at Island Championships

Cleanup in the works after tanker truck fire leads to oil spill in B.C.’s Peace region

The province said the majority of the spilled oil likely burned away in the fire.

Fisherman missing near Lake Cowichan’s Shaw Creek

Family is asking for everyone and anyone to keep their eyes open,… Continue reading

BC VIEWS: Action needed on healthcare workplace violence

While we’ve been talking about it, the number of B.C. victims has only grown

Closing arguments begin in B.C. case launched in 2009 over private health care

Dr. Day said he illegally opened the Cambie Surgery Centre in 1996 in order to create more operating-room time

MacLean says “Coach’s Corner is no more” following Cherry’s dismissal from Hockey Night

Cherry had singled out new immigrants in for not honouring Canada’s veterans and fallen soldiers

Most Read