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It’s Green to be Brown with Dormant Grass

IHCA ARC Guidance on Lawn Maintenance

Issaquah Highlands is a “green” community (environmentally conscious…). As such, we are allowed to let our lawns go dormant (brown-out) in the summer months saving not only not water (and $$) but the environment as well. This does not mean letting your lawn die.  Here are a few easy instructions for achieving a dormant lawn vs dead lawn.

Keeping your lawn looking good can be a chore or a passion and is often both.  Our lawns can be a family gathering area, a place to lie down and read a book, or just a visually appealing component of our landscape. When the summer gets hot our lawns go into dormancy. What is dormancy? It’s a natural defense mechanism of the lawn to make sure it survives until the drought period is over. The crown of the lawn blade allows the blade to turn brown as to conserve water to keep the crown alive.

In drought conditions the crown only needs approximately ½” of water every 2-3 weeks. This water can be provided via natural rainfall or by the homeowner watering it. There is a simple homemade rain gauge idea online that uses an empty water bottle that you can make with your kids this winter (

IHCA Arc tip diagram April 2015

If a lawn does not receive the minimal amount of water the crown will die, and it will not return to green when more natural rainfall occurs. While a maintained lawn is required in the Issaquah Highlands, dormancy is perfectly acceptable. Dormant turf is quite common in our part of the world (almost a badge of honor in Seattle), and many turf areas here go dormant every summer, such as the tract north of Firehouse Park and most of the lawn areas at North Ponds East and West downhill from Bark Park.

Properly managed dormancy ensures a lawn returns to a green state when natural water returns. Using this method can save a significant amount of water during the summer months, and ensures your lawn will return to a beautiful green come the fall months.  Just make sure you do not feed your lawn in the weeks before you let it dry out.

In Issaquah Highlands being “green” means brown for your lawns. Does that make brown the new black?

IHCA Arc tip lawn brown April 2015

(Left) Well maintained, dormant lawn. Brown lawn will turn green with watering. (Right) Poorly maintained lawn. Dead spots will not turn green with watering.