It looks like the summer heat came a little early this year. We are already experiencing some of the warmest and driest conditions that the are has seen in a few years this early in the summer season. Over the holiday weekend, while you are spending time with family and friends, take heed of the temperatures and make sure that you keep yourself and your lawn hydrated.
Your turf likely has not been able to put down deep healthy roots since the wet winter (yes, too wet is a bad thing for turf). Please keep an eye on your turf and if you haven’t already turn on your irrigation system. We haven’t really needed them until this week, but if you have one use it. If you are unsure how to operate your system, let us know and we can assist you.
Watering during periods of drought can help prevent many serious turf problems like dormancy, yellowing, bare spots, and some diseases. Here are some tips on how and when to water your lawn:
When to water
Using irrigation water to fill the gaps between precipitation events is critical to a healthy lawn, and efficient, responsible use of this natural resource will keep water bills lower. You should always pay attention to any local ordinances regarding water usage. Drought tolerant turf species, while they may go dormant during drought, will revive once precipitation occurs or watering restrictions are lifted
To be the most efficient when watering your lawn, you should always irrigate when:
Winds are calm
In the early morning hours, this minimizes evaporation loss and results in a more efficient irrigation event.
Only when lawns show signs of drought stress.
Do not irrigate in the evening (increases disease pressure)
How to Water
There are two basic kinds of sprinkler systems available to homeowners:
- In-Ground, automatic irrigation: This is the most efficient way to irrigate your lawn. A professionally designed and installed system will provide complete and even distribution of water across the lawn surface, should have a battery back-up for any timing devices, and a rain sensor to disable the system when precipitation occurs.
- Above Ground, movable hose based sprinklers: These methods are less expensive than in-ground systems, however not as efficient or convenient. These sprinklers may either be a portable surface type, which needs to be moved from time to time in order to cover the whole lawn or a traveling sprinkler, which follows the path of the hose or a cable around the lawn.
Both methods require observation and effort on the part of the homeowner in order to avoid over watering and ensuring uniform coverage through out the lawn.
Knowing how to irrigate is one thing, but how much should you be watering your lawn?
- A general rule for most turf species requires 1 inch of water per week in order to maintain a healthy status, this includes any precipitation.
- Irrigation should be a supplement to natural precipitation, not the main source of water for your lawn.
- Water once every 2-3 days in periods of drought (about a half an inch per application).
- If one or more inches of precipitation falls in any given week, then supplemental irrigation is not necessary.
- Soils that are primarily clay based (most around here) will require less water overall and fewer applications than more sandy soils. Clay has a very high water holding capacity.
Irrigation cycles should be run so that you are watering as deeply as possible into the soil profile, with causing runoff on the surface. Irrigation should only be applied to supplement precipitation deficits. Avoid hard and fast irrigation timer settings, be flexible with your times and days. Avoid standing water in your lawn.
To determine if you are applying the correct amount of water, place a rain gauge between a series of irrigation heads or midway between the sprinkler and the end of its coverage and check the depth of water in the gauge after a predetermined length of time. Use this information to calculate the amount of time that irrigation must be applied to reach ½ inch.
Things to keep in mind
• Water deeply and infrequently.
• Proper use of sprinkler water will result in a healthier and attractive lawn and lower water bills.
• Consider spot watering localized dry spots instead of the entire lawn.
• Water areas on mounds and berms and near buildings more often, where reflected heat dries the turf.
• Avoid irrigating until water runs off the lawn surface and on to walks and roads.
• Areas shaded from trees may require more water to support both trees and turf grasses.
• Avoid standing water for any period of time.
• Make sure that you are mowing at the proper height for your turf species (not all grasses should be mown at the same height of cut).
• A sharp mower blade is essential if you want to maintain a healthy lawn through periods of stress. Dull blades tear the grass, resulting in a more stressful and jagged cut, making the turf more susceptible to fungal diseases.
• Avoid fertilization until fall for cool-season turf (fescues, ryes, bluegrasses).
• Spot spray only for weed control in cool-season turf.