We’ve had our share of rainfall within the past few weeks but more than a few of you have mentioned how the grass is looking a little dried out. No need to panic! Most types of grass need no less than an inch of water each week. Before you drag out the hose and sprinkler, consider some of these green-grass-tips!
Decide before hand.
Decide before the intense summer heat arrives, to either water lawns consistently as needed throughout the season, or let lawns go dormant as conditions turn hot and dry. Do not rotate back and forth. In other words, don’t let the grass turn totally brown, then apply enough water to green it up, then let the grass go dormant again. Breaking the lawns dormancy actually drains large amounts of food reserves from the plant.
When is it time to water?
The first few warm days of summer does not automatically mean to water lawns. In fact, allowing lawns to start to go under mild drought stress actually increases rooting.
Grasses also tend to turn darker in color as they go under drought stress.
Water as INFREQUENTLY as possible.
Thoroughly water when you do water so moisture soaks down to the roots. Exceptions to this general rule would be for newly seeded or sodded lawns. Otherwise, avoid frequent waterings that promote shallower root systems and weeds (e.g., crabgrass). Another thing to think about: The more often you water your lawn, the faster it grows and the more it needs to be mowed.
Water early in the day if possible.
This is a big one! Every day on my way home I pass a business with the sprinklers on at 11pm. Watering at night increases the chance of diseases gaining a foothold on your lawn. Almost more important? The time of day you choose to water. Water only early in the day when lawns are normally wet from dew. After 11am, a majority of the water you put down evaporated because of the sun and heat. Reducing the amount of evaporation that takes place during the very hot day allows the water to reach the root zone where it does the most good.
Spread the water uniformly across the lawn.
Sprinklers vary in distribution patterns, and require spray overlap for uniform coverage. Placing coffee cans or similar straight-sided containers on the lawn can help measure water application rates.
To help conserve water, mow your lawn at a higher height, avoid applying an excess of nitrogen as warm weather approaches, limit traffic over the lawn, improve turf rooting, control thatch and soil compaction, and avoid pesticide use on drought stressed lawns. Don’t allow water to hit the driveway or into the street. This is just wasteful.
Don’t water the lawn if rains are expected soon. Keep track of rainfall for the week. Don’t apply more water to the lawn than what is absolutely necessary. The guide of about 1″ of water per week is only a guide. If your lawn doesn’t get that 1″ of water, it’s not going to die.
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This post was written by Eric Sorensen on June 30, 2008