Thank you for rejoining us for the next installment of our ‘The Grass IS Greener Over There!‘ series. Last week’s installment, located here, covered Weed Control. This week will explore watering practices for your lawn.
We have been seeing an increase in calls at our office lately about sprinkler startups. For more information we did post a DIY article on starting your own sprinkler system this spring. If you still need this done and cannot do it yourself, I recommend having a professional address it soon. Pushing this chore off may result in a drought damaged lawn. The weather changes so much around here, you never know if it will be record highs or record lows. As the old axiom goes, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait 5 minutes.”
Once you have your sprinkler system set and ready to go, it is important to understand certain truths about watering your lawn. If you are faithful to water your lawn like a professional, you will always have great results.
Watering properly is much more an art than a science.
Every lawn is different, and there are many variables that affect how you should water. Some of those variables include:
- Grass type
- Soil compaction
- Soil PH
- Grass height
Two neighboring lawns may have exactly the same watering lengths and frequency, but due to the differing variables the results may be a different outcome. For example, if one lawn is mowed at a higher cutting, they will require less water than a lawn mowed shorter. A longer grass blade will shade the soil longer which results in a slower evaporation rate of water in the soil.
As you can see, it can get very complicated very quickly if you aren’t confident in how you should water. With a little education, you will be watering like a professional!
When I visit a lawn and a customer asks me about watering, I always give them a starting point. Again, every lawn is different. If you can begin with a few good standards, then you can make the necessary adjustments to your specific needs.
- Water regularly – your lawn will need 2-3 inches of water weekly depending on soil type, rainfall amounts, wind, and ambient temperatures. You will water more in the summer, than in the spring or fall. However, it still needs to be watered regularly all times of the growing season.
- Early morning watering is the best time to water. Watering during the hottest time of the day really is a waste of watering. Up to 50% of the water you put on the lawn during this time can evaporate. So if you watered for an hour, it really was like watering for 30 minutes as far as your grass is concerned. Evening watering is only slightly better than midday watering. Evening watering can promote the spread of disease in your lawn as the top layer of water in your soil won’t evaporate quickly enough. Sometimes you don’t have choice in your watering as many HOA assign watering times – so water when you can when you have no choice.
- Water deep and infrequent. A long watering 2-3 times a week is much better than watering daily for a shorter amount. Think about – if you water 1 hour 3 times a week, that is 3 hours of watering per zone for the week. If you water 30 minutes every day, that is 3.5 hours of watering per zone for the week. You save water, and the longer/deeper watering allows the water to go deeper in the soil where it will not evaporate as quickly. Your grass roots will go deeper in the soil to find that water,which results in a much healthier lawn. The alternative is watering all the time – it will cause your lawn to get a disease and be unhealthy, albeit slowly. Let me use a metaphor to illustrate what happens to your lawn when it always has water on it. Pretend your lawn is a finger. Water is a band-aid. What happens to your finger when you have a band-aid on it for several days without changing it. It begins to decay! Same thing happens to your lawn. Don’t water everyday!
- Rule of thumb for sprinkler heads. If you have the large rotor heads that turn, water 45-60 minutes per zone 2-3 times a week (2 in the cooler months, 3 in warmer months). If you have the pop up spray heads, water 30-45 minutes per zone 2-3 times a week.
Now that you have the basics down you can fine tune any areas that look like they might need a littler more help. If you are watering 45 minutes 3 times a week and an area just isn’t greening up, bump your times up to 60 minutes. Don’t add a 4th day of the week, keep it at 3 times a week maximum. You can even raise your mower, remember a higher grass blade helps shade the soil.
If You Don’t Wash Your Lawn It Will Get Dirty!
Failing to water your lawn will result in drought stress, which can lead to dead grass, which will turn into a bare dirt patch in the middle of your lawn.
If you want further help with watering your lawn or have questions that we may not have answered here, please get in contact with us! We would love to help you with your lawn needs. www.weedmanboise.com In the meantime, we hope you will join us again next week with the continuation of our blog series.