As ‘flash drought’ grows, experts offer advice for lawns, gardens and more – NBC Chicago

As a “flash drought” potentially emerges in parts of the Chicago area, experts are offering advice for those looking to keep their lawns and gardens in shape, while conserving water in the process.

According to the National Weather Service, parts of the Chicago metro area, particularly areas west and south of the city, haven’t seen “appreciable rainfall” since early April and are at least 3 5 inches from their normal monthly rainfall totals.

In fact, May could end up being the second driest May on record, and thanks to rapidly drying soil and lower flows in the region’s rivers, a “sudden drought” is on its way. potentially produced in the region.

A “flash drought” occurs when dry soil and stream conditions rapidly intensify, usually due to a lack of precipitation or long periods of above-average temperatures.

The last significant precipitation measured in the city of Chicago occurred on May 8 and no rain is forecast for the remainder of May.

According to US Geological Survey officials, residents can take many steps to protect plants and conserve water as drought conditions intensify.

For starters, lawn mowers need to raise their blade to at least three inches. USGS officials say higher grass cuttings encourage roots to grow deeper into the soil, which helps maintain soil moisture levels.

Those who use fertilizers on their lawns are advised to keep this to a minimum for now, as these products require more water.

Watering lawns is fine, but according to the Red Cross, lawns only need to be watered every five to seven days during the summer. Residents are also advised to water their lawns in short bursts, rather than a long session, as this better allows water to soak into the soil before adding more.

While established plants tend to survive drought conditions better than new plants, experts say watering these plants is key to long-term survival. Reusing water where possible, especially from showers, can help reduce water bills.

In the longer term, residents are encouraged to plant native plants and drought-tolerant grasses, shrubs and trees, and to group plants according to how much water the vegetation needs.

Placing mulch around plants can also help maintain soil moisture, according to the USGS.

Finally, homeowners are advised to ensure sprinklers are aimed precisely at grasses and plants, as water reaching the asphalt can result in higher water bills.

Water conservation can also be used at home. The Red Cross suggests replacing showerheads with very low-flow versions when possible.

Dishwashers and washing machines should only run when they are full.

Residents are also encouraged to thaw food in refrigerators, rather than using running water.

More tips can be found on and the Red Cross website.

As for when we might see more rain, long-term climate modeling indicates that normal precipitation levels are expected in June, but no rain is currently in the long-term forecast for the Chicago area.

NBC Chicago

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