Water usage in Nevada is of critical importance. Great efforts must be taken to conserve water by reducing water usage, especially for landscape maintenance. Nevada's Mojave desert is extremely dry, compared to other desert areas of the southwest such as the the Sonora desert of Arizona which receives 3 times more water and provides a slightly better opportunity for plant growing.
Contrary to popular opinion, turfgrass mowed at its maximum recommended height uses more water than the same turfgrass mowed at its minimum recommended height. Besides the type of plant, plant height, size and density are principle factors governing plant water use.
Desert soils are not always the sterile environments many people suppose, nor are they void of nutrients. However, lawn grasses growing in them are more likely to encounter certain problems associated with nutrient deficiency.
These deficiency problems are typically yellowing and loss of turfgrass density. This is primarily due to a lack of applied nitrogen or the unavailability of micronutrients, especially iron.
Extremely low organic matter is common to Nevada's native soils and this contributes to nutrient problems. When organic matter is added to the soil, the decomposing matter contributes nitrogen content to the soil and helps lower soil's pH. The additional organic matter also helps the soil retain water and nutrients in the soil longer.
Except for extremely sandy soils, most desert soils in Nevada already have many of the elements found in lawn fertilizers. It is critical before beginning a turfgrass fertilization to have a soil test to determine your soil's requirements before proceeding blindly.
Desert soils except for sandy soils, already have an adequate amounts of phosphorous, potassium and iron. However, it is the missing organic matter that would naturally support microbes in the soil that convert these naturally occurring elements from being able to be absorbed by turfgrass. It is critical for turfgrass health, to add organic matter to the soil prior to trying to establish a lawn. Organic matter can include manure, peat moss, rotted sawdust, and compost.
Once a lawn is established, great care must be taken to continue adding organic matter in the form of grass clippings from mowing. DO NOT BAG LAWN CLIPPINGS.
Adding fertilizer also encourages rapid plant growth which also uses more water compared to plants that receive moderate levels of fertilization. A fine balance between providing enough fertilization for plant health, and over fertilizing that causes rapid plant growth must be maintained throughout the growing season.
Promoting healthy growth and avoiding conditions that cause stress to your turfgrass is the best way to prevent a severe disease outbreak. Stressed lawns are an open invitation for a lawn disease to gain a foothold. Optimal maintenance practices are the best way of avoiding stressed turfgrass.
Even if a pathogen is present in the soil, infection will not occur unless the environmental conditions are conducive to disease development. Once turf diseases have become active, they can cause heavy damage if not treated properly. Here is a list of common diseases to Nevada lawns: