In this arid climate, it’s never been that easy to have a green lawn in Colorado Springs. It’s about to get a lot tougher.
If Colorado Springs City Council approves, mandatory watering restrictions will take effect April 1, as the city’s water supply dwindles in the face of a second year of severe drought. Lawn watering would be limited to two days a week, and anyone seeking to put down new grass would have to buy a permit and meet other obligations.
So experts say act now to hang on to what you can before spring. Plants and grass
might be brown and dormant, but they still can die of thirst.
“We want to continue to tell people that winter watering, one day a week, when it’s warm and dry like it is, will help prevent winter kill and dehydration,” said Ann Seymour, water conservation manager for Colorado Springs Utilities.
Until the recent snowstorm, this winter had been drier than even the previous year in Colorado Springs. The mountains, where most of our water falls as snow, are at 75 percent of average snowpack, and the city’s reservoir storage is at 47.9 percent of capacity, which led Colorado Springs officials to propose the first watering restrictions since 2005.
Here are steps to take to ensure your lawn is as ready as possible for hot weather.
• Water from time to time when the temperature is in the 40s and the ground isn’t frozen. Focus on the most valuable trees and shrubs, new grass and lawns exposed to sun and wind. Water at midday so it soaks into the soil before freezing.
• Increase watering frequency as temperatures warm this month, when new roots are forming, and as often as allowed in April if dry conditions persist.
• Use slow-release, manure-based fertilizer to help grass green up in early spring.
• Do not water cacti, succulents, buffalo grass, blue grama and very xeric plants.
• Put out cups to catch some of the sprinkler water and stop when it measures an inch deep.
• Spread mulch around the base of trees and shrubs to help them retain moisture.
• Limit foot, pet traffic.
• If a south- or west-facing area of lawn doesn’t regrow, it may be time to consider xeriscaping.