Irrigation is a crucial part within the overall lawn care program. If you water your lawn, always soak it to the depth of 6 or 8 inches. This encourages the grass to nurture a deep, extensive root system which is better able to withstand heat and drought stress. Light, frequent watering on established lawns generates a shallow root system that gets dry quickly and may also die during hot, dry periods.
Don’t irregularly water your lawn during droughts to the extent that your grass goes in-and-out of dormancy several times without allowing it to completely heal. Some grasses, including Kentucky bluegrass, can make it through prolonged droughts during dormant conditions and after that resume growth when sufficient water is available, but this is done at great expense towards the plant.
When you begin an irrigation program for your lawn, you should never suddenly stop it part way through a stress period. On bluegrass, terrible problems may result. It is better to permit it to harden off naturally and endure the hot, dry period during a dormant conditions.
Knowing When to Water
The best irrigation wets merely the turfgrass root zone, will never saturate the soil and does not stand in puddles, evaporate or run off. To figure out when your lawn needs watering, look for these symptoms of stress:
- Bluish grass spots in your lawn.
- Footprints that remain in the grass even long after being made.
- Leaf blades folded in a half lengthwise or rolled on the edges.
- Soil in root zone that feels dry.
High temperatures, strong winds and low humidity that could possibly go with long dry spells cause these symptoms. Water your lawn when these signs appear. Waiting longer results in permanent damage.
The optimum time to water your lawn is in the early morning. Winds are typically calm so less water evaporates, plus the foliage dries off during the day. For warm-season grasses during the summer, dividing you watering times by completing half the desired amount in the morning and the other half in the evening is an efficient method of using water. Be cautious when watering in the evening because foliage is likely to stay wet all night if too much water is used. Grass that remains wet for several hours causes it to be more susceptible to disease.
How Much Water to Use?
It is a waste to apply more water than the soil can absorb and keep in mind that the type of soil you might have effects how quick water is consumed. As an illustration, water permeates a sandy soil faster than a clay soil. On sloping lawns, water might runoff without penetrating the soil, so apply water slowly to make sure that the soil will absorb it.
How frequently you water and how much water you apply ultimatley depends on the grass type, soil properties and texture, the climate along with other factors such as heat, wind or humidity.
To figure out the level of water to give your lawn so that it soaks in 6 or 8 inches deep, you need to know just how much water your sprinklers apply. You can determine this with a hose-end sprinkler as well as an underground system utilizing this method:
- Put down several straight-sided cans evenly spaced in a straight line going away from the sprinkler in four directions.
- Run the sprinkler for an hour then measure the quantity of water in each can.
- Use this measurement to calculate just how long you should run the sprinkler to apply the proper amount of water.
During the method, watch to find out if runoff is happening. If that’s so, you may want to start and stop your sprinkler at intervals to allow time for the water to absorb fully into the soil. Also verify whether each can contains different quantities of water. If so, your sprinklers are not applying water evenly.