Recommendations for Effective Lawn Watering
The following practices are recommended to achieve effective lawn watering.
Do not begin watering at the first sign of warm weather.
Root-system elongation is the initial turfgrass response to droughty conditions. During parts of the season that have regular rain and cooler temperatures, your lawn may still need supplemental water. Water amounts are from natural and irrigation supplies. Do not delay watering until temperatures are warming up and rain fall is less. It is best to water deeply in the beginning of the season to get the grass roots deep down into the soil. This will help drought damage when there is less rainfall, warmer temperatures and possible reduce water usage restrictions.
To determine when to water, walk on your lawn to see if your footprints are visible behind you.
On lawns in need of water, the grasses will not spring back following trafficking. Where moisture is adequate, grasses will spring back. Another method to determine the need for watering is to watch for grass color changes. Very often, as soils dry, lawns with inadequate moisture develop a dark blue or purple cast. Finally, you can use a soil sampling tool to examine soil for the presence of moisture.
Select a sprinkler based on yard size and shape.
Many sprinklers have water distribution patterns that can be adjusted to fit a variety of sizes and shapes. It is not necessary to have an in-ground sprinkler system to have an attractive yard, although an in-ground system can reduce the labor of moving a sprinkler and hose from spot to spot.
Supply a uniform amount of water to the entire lawn.
Do not supply excessive water in some spots and inadequate amounts in others. When sprinkling, monitor water distribution by placing coffee cans or some other straight-sided vessels at various points beneath the sprinkler’s pattern. Measure the quantity of water captured in each container and overlap sprinkler patterns to supply the entire lawn with a uniform quantity of water. Measure the amount of time it takes to fill the container with 1/2 inch of water.
It is best to water deeply and infrequently.
Water to the depth of the turf root system, that is, supply enough water in one irrigation to moisten the entire soil profile where roots are growing. Usually, 1/2 inch of water two times a week is adequate to supply this amount. Watering must take place early in the morning, starting around 4:00 am. NEVER water in the afternoon or evening. This can reduce water loss due to evaporation and will increase the incidence of several lawn diseases.
Avoid light, frequent irrigation unless you have just seeded an area.
Light frequent irrigation encourages shallow turfgrasses rooting and annual weed invasion.
Watch newly planted lawns, both seeded and sodded, closely.
Young grass plants and newly installed sod have smaller root systems than their fully established counterparts. These plants will usually require frequent irrigation until their root systems have developed and they have become established.
Do not apply water faster than the soil can absorb it.
Do not create puddles by overwatering. On slopes, apply water slowly enough to be absorbed into the soil and not run off the surface.
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Mow to keep your lawn Healthy
Don’t cut your grass too short.
Grass about 3.5-4 inches tall usually looks better, encourages a deeper root system, and helps prevent weeds from invading. When summer temperatures go up, so should the height of your mower -nothing drives us crazier than to see a scalped lawn on a 85 degree sunny day. Taller grass shades the soil, keeping your grass greener between watering / rain and will save you money on your summer water bill. And resist the urge to cut the lawn edges super short, either with the mower or a string trimmer - that is a sure-fire way to get crabgrass in those areas.
Adhere to the one-third rule.
For a healthy lawn, never remove more than one-third of the grass blade at one time. Cutting more off stresses the grass plant and yes, it will grow back slowly – but if weather conditions are bad, it can also promote disease/insect damage and kill the grass!
Keep your blade sharp.
This is a biggie...Sharp lawn mower blades produce a well-manicured lawn, and clean cuts promote better grass health. Dull mower blades shred grass tips, producing a brownish tint to a lawn. Don’t assume that your new mower came with a sharp blade out of the box either, inspect it to be sure. We also recommend having blades sharpened once a season, usually at the same time as a yearly tune-up.
Alternate your mowing route.
Lawns that are mowed the same direction every time develop unsightly brown stripes due to wheel ruts in the soil causing the mower to cut shorter as it sinks lower and lower into the lawn. To avoid creating a pattern that lasts all season, alternate mowing directions either perpendicular or diagonal from the previous mow. Cut North - South one mowing and East - West the next mowing.
For the best cut, mow in mid to late morning, when it’s cool but the morning dew has dried off. Avoid mowing on a really, really hot, sunny day – the mower wheels will bend break off the fragile grass stems on the crown of the plant and brown (wheel) lines will appear a few days later in the lawn.
Generally, grass clippings of an inch or less in length can be left on your lawn where they will filter down to the soil surface and decompose quickly. Remove longer clippings because they can shade or smother grass beneath causing lawn damage.
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