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NC State Extension

Dealing With Drought

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  • For established lawns implement usual fertilization and weed control procedures. If overseeding, do not apply traditional preemergence crabgrass herbicides. The only safe preemergence crabgrass herbicide when seeding tall fescue is siduron. It will provide four to six weeks of crabgrass control. For crabgrass that emerges after this time contact a landscape professional to apply a postemergence crabgrass material. One application of a starter fertilizer should be used at seeding. New fescue seedlings must be mowed three times before applying broadleaf herbicides to avoid injury.
  • To keep drought-stressed turfgrass alive during water restrictions, apply one inch of water per month. This will keep grass crowns hydrated and chances for survival are good. Obviously, you will not be able to do this in areas in the state where the water restrictions prohibit watering lawns. Check with your local municipality.
  • In choosing a landscape, don’t let one year’s dry weather fool you into creating a desert landscape. We also have very rainy weather. Create a landscape using tough plants. While they need to be plants that adapt to our growing conditions, they don’t have to be native. Many of the introduced plants in our landscapes tolerate both wet and dry conditions.

Drought-Tolerant Annuals

Drought-Tolerant Perennials

Drought-Tolerant Shrubs

Drought-Tolerant Trees

Stress-Tolerant Bedding Plants

Use of Bath Water and Other Gray Water on Plants

By North Carolina law, bathwater, dishwater, washing machine water, and all other household water (except water from toilets), is known as gray water, is sewage and legally can only be disposed of through a proper system. North Carolina Cooperative Extension Centers across the state receive questions about the use of gray water on landscapes. Again, the law is that gray water is to be disposed of through a proper system. However, some municipalities suggest using gray water during a drought. If you intend to use it, make sure you understand the safety ramifications. Never use gray water on anything that may be eaten and do not spray gray water, or allow it to puddle or run off your property. Do not use water that has come in contact with soiled diapers, meat, poultry or anyone with an infectious disease. Never use toilet water, also known as black water; it must go to a treatment facility.