Resuscitating your brown lawn with less water, using tech and A.I.

After this summer's long, hot drought, your lawn may be looking brown.  

Many areas are still underwater restrictions.  But there are ways to bring your lawn back to a healthy green, including a sprinkler system with artificial intelligence.

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To determine whether your lawn is dead or just dormant, pull up some brown blades of grass.  If they pull up easily, it's dead.  If they stay in place, it's dormant.

We asked experts how to resuscitate a lawn while we're still under water restrictions.

First, Texas A&M irrigation specialist Dr. Guy Fipps says first give it some water to see if it comes back.

"Irrigate twice a week for two or three weeks. If it doesn’t green up, then you know you have a problem," said Fipps with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

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But, he warns, don't over water it.    

"It's a tendency people have, if their grass gets gray, they put out more water than they may need.  And that doesn’t accomplish anything," he explained.  

And Fipps says don't fertilize it.  

"Fertilizer increases growth.  So if the plants are really stressed, you don’t want to put that much stress on it," he said.

The best season to aerate and reseed a lawn is in the fall.  

Set your mower on high to leave taller blades of grass, and let the clippings fall into the lawn to hold in moisture.


In parts of Texas, including Houston, you can get free customized watering advice from the Texas A&M WaterMyYard program through its app, email, or text alerts.  You enter your address and the type of irrigation system you have into the program.  It uses weather data to send you weekly watering suggestions to green your lawn while wasting less water.  We signed up for tips for the brown lawn at the FOX 26 studios. It recommended one watering this week for 16 minutes.

If you want to go high-tech, artificial intelligence is being used by a company called Irrigreen in a centralized, digital sprinkler, which you program through an app, to water right up to the exact perimeter of your yard.  A company video shows the sprinkler navigating its spray around cutouts in the yard.  

The company says it uses AI to spray water within set borders, much like an inkjet printer.  It analyzes weather data and controls the water flow accordingly.  Irrigreen says it can cut water usage for watering by 50%.  

Forbes reports that installing an Irrigreen sprinkler system runs about $2,000 to $4,000 depending on the size of your yard.

Many areas in greater Houston are still under water restrictions, so be sure to follow local guidance.  City of Houston residents are limited to outdoor watering twice a week on certain days based on their address and the water should not run off onto pavement or into the gutter.

RELATED: Houston water restrictions

If you're replanting grass, these grass types are considered to be more drought-tolerant:

• Bahia grass

• Bermuda grass

• Buffalo grass

• Creeping Red Fescue

• Tall Fescue

• Zoysia grass