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.”

 

jacob.zinn@saanichnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

Victoria City Council approves inclusionary housing policy

After years of back and forth, the policy will be ratified in two weeks

Filipino Heritage Month event takes over Centennial Square

Dancing, music and food highlight Mabuhay Day celebration in Victoria

West Shore residents report finding anti-SOGI 123 flyers in mailboxes

SD62 trustee Ravi Parmar says the flyers are ‘garbage’

Saanich woman runs marathons to make dreams come true

Hempler gutted her way through 122 kms with minimal breaks, to support Help Fill a Dream Foundation

Tsartlip canoe team pulls for international glory in Australia

Geronimo Canoe Club paddles to Victoria to kick-start fundraising

Victoria Weekender: What’s happening this weekend, June 15-16

Car Free YYJ, a barber battle and an Outdoor Discovery Day

Homalco tour gives glimpse into area’s ‘People, Land, Water’

First Nation business mixes cultural components with wildlife excursions

Monkey spotted on late-night jaunt in Campbell River

Conservation officers also apparently looking for cougar in the area

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

Most Read