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Gardening During Drought

Flowers and Vegetables:

  • Select drought tolerant types for drier sites.
  • Shelter with wind breaks or fabric until roots are well established.
  • Water deeply but infrequently.
  • Wide spacing to reduce competition for moisture.
  • Mulch plants.
  • Use trickle or drip irrigation systems.


  • Mowing - Set the cutting height on lawn mowers to at least 2 inches. Grass cut at 2-3 inches will develop deeper root systems and will be better able to tolerate drought.
  • Fertilizing - Avoid early spring high nitrogen fertilizer. Use turf fertilizer with a high percentage of slow release nitrogen.
  • Watering - Apply once inch of water per week in one application to allow for deep (4-6 inches) penetration of water into soil.
  • Leave grass clippings; clippings act as a mulch and recycle nutrients.
  • Allow grass to go dormant if water is not available; the turf will green up when conditions improve.
  • New lawn construction and repairs: do fall (late August - early September) seeding only and include drought resistant types such as fine fescues in the grass seed mix.

Allocation of Water: When water is limited, give priority to the following plants since they have the greatest need for water.

  • Newly planted trees and shrubs.
  • Newly seeded lawns or lawn areas that have been overseeded or repaired.
  • Trees and shrubs on sandy or shallow soils, and on sites exposed to sun and wind.
  • Vegetables; apply water when crops (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc) are flowering.

This article was taken from Hort Notes Volume 13, Number 4.

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76 Elm Ridge Rd.
Stow MA 01775
Tel: 978-263-9674
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