Most Mother Nature takes care of it.
Not this year.
As of Friday, Fort Collins has received only .10 of an inch in precipitation this month and less than 3 inches this year – and that’s coming off an exceptionally warm, dry fall.
Do I even need to bring up the wind?
We don’t know what moisture May and June, two of our historically wettest months, will bring. If they end up like April, these tips will be that much more important.
So let’s make sure you keep your lawn and trees alive while conserving water, according to a variety of experts.
Colorado weather: Are we in trouble because of a lack of spring moisture?
Full care tips during drought
Despite our dryness, you don’t need to fire your sprinkler system or drag the hose out to water your bluegrass lawn, the dominant lawn grass here. Bluegrass can go without water for up to a couple of months before affecting the crown and roots. Surely, will we get some moisture before then?
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- The lack of water will force the grass to go dormant (brown color). Although it may not look good, the crown and roots remain alive when the water returns to the lawn.
- If the lawn gets exceptionally dry, you may see more weeds infiltrate your lawn but you can hand-pick or spray those.
- If you long for a green lawn, water once a week, apply .75 to 1 inch of water. If you have a sprinkler system, water in multiple cycles of less than 10 minutes to allow the water to soak into our mostly clay light and reduce water from running off the lawn and into the street.
- If you don’t know how much your sprinkler puts out, tuna cans, in various spots throughout the lawn. Run the sprinklers for say 10 minutes and then measure the depth of water in each container. By knowing how much you want to apply.
- Water between 6 pm and 10 am to avoid wind spray waste.
- Don’t be lazy. Adjust the amount of water from your sprinkler system according to any rain amount we receive. Also adjust your sprinkler heads if they are spraying on any unirrigated surfaces.
- Don’t fertilize this spring, unless you’re watering. This will only stress your lawn more.
- Allow your grass to grow to 3 inches before mowing. This helps it retain moisture.
Top 10 tree tips during drought
- Your first priority should be to water any young or newly transplanted trees that have a limited rootball. These trees need supplemental water even when drought conditions do not exist to help them become established.
- It is important to water slowly until the bottom of the rootball is moist. Overwatering can result in death by drowning. Use a screwdriver to probe deep into the rootball to determine moisture. You want it wet, not soaked.
- Established trees have absorbing roots primarily in the top 12 inches of the soil.
- Apply water at an appropriate rate that allows water to slowly sink into the depths to that depth. You need to use a wide or deep-rooted location 8 inches deep or less around the dripline, which is as far as the branches reach. Or you can use a soaker hose or soft spray wand.
- As a general rule of thumb in the dripline every week or other week after the dripline.
- Apply 3 to 4 inches of mulch around the tree outward to 2 to 3 feet from the base of the trunk. Do not allow the mulch to directly contact the trunk as this can increase insect issues.
- Rock mulch will not absorb heat while wood mulch will not hold while more moisture.
- Don’t fertilize as this will only stress your tree more.
- Prune out any dying, dead limbs or branches and any that cross and rub one another.
- Don’t prune any other limbs or branches as that will only stress the tree more
More tips: For garden, lawns and trees
Here’s where to get free mulch in Fort Collins
The city of Fort Collins Forestry Division will provide free timber mulch to city residents 8 am to 3 pm May 7 and May 21 at 1380 Hoffman Mill Road.
Loading assistance will be provided by city personnel using a front-end loader. Visitors should be responsible for covering their loads when leaving.
The tools are not available to commercial businesses.
The city also offers free mulch during regular business hours at its two self-load sites at Timberline Recycling Center, 1903 S. Timberline Road, and The Gardens on Spring Creek, 2145 Center Ave.
For more information, visit fcgov.com/forestry or call 970-221-6660.
Reporter Miles Blumhardt looks for stories that impact your life. Be it news, outdoors, sports – you name it, he wants to report it. Have a story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MilesBlumhardt. Support his work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.