Managing Turf During Drought

Managing Turf Drought in Kansas City


Most turfgrasses are resilient and will recover from drought conditions with minimal injury if proper management practices are implemented prior to and after the onset of stress. Turf needs proper amounts of moisture and nutrients to aid in the recovery process. Proper cultural practices will also aid in drought tolerance and recovery.

Cool season grasses perform best in temperatures between 60 degrees and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas warm season turf performs well at temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Low soil moisture and increased temperatures between the months of June and August are very stressful to cool season turf. Due to low soil moisture, the first signs of dormancy will be a loss of color in the turf. The turf will take on a bluish-gray color and become very dry and brittle. Applying as little as one inch of water per week can help the turf to retain color. Turfgrass can usually survive 4-5 weeks of dormancy with minimal damage. Dormant grass will not recover if the rhizomes, roots, and crowns dehydrate.


Proper irrigation practices are critical during times of drought. It is important to water deeply and infrequently opposed to lightly and frequently. Watering deeply helps the water to penetrate the soil, allowing more moisture availability and retention. Watering lightly and frequently keeps the moisture on the surface, causing quicker evaporation and shallow root development. Water should be applie