Thursday, February 19, 2009

How and When to Water Your Lawn

Proper use of irrigation water to fill the gaps between rainfalls is critical to a healthy lawn. Efficient use of this important natural resource will keep water bills lower.


There are two basic of sprinkler systems; automatic underground and portable hose sprinklers.

* Automatic lawn irrigation - The most efficient method of irrigating a lawn is through an underground lawn sprinkler system. It is a good investment in your lawn as well as the value of your home. A professionally installed system should be designed for complete and even distribution, have battery back-up for any timing devices, and a rain sensor to stop the system when rain occurs.

* Portable hose sprinklers - Sprinkler systems are less expensive than underground systems. Sprinklers may be either “portable surface” (the most common) requiring moving the sprinkler to each area of the lawn or “traveling sprinkler”, that follows the hose or a cable around the lawn. Both types of sprinklers need frequent observation to avoid mis-application and water waste.

How Much

As a general rule, keeping your lawn healthy requires 1 to 2 inches of water weekly- including rainfall. Water once every 2 to 3 days in dry weather (about ½ inch at each application). Heavy clay soils will require less water and less frequent applications than sandier soils. Water as deeply as possible without causing run-off.

To determine how much water you are applying, ask for our free SuperSod rain gauge. Place gauge midway between the sprinkler and the end of the coverage and check after a planned length of time- approximately ½ hour. Then calculate the total time needed to apply ½ inch.


Follow local irrigation ordinances or restrictions when watering your lawn. Drought tolerant lawn grasses will revive once rainfall occurs or irrigation restrictions are lifted. To be most efficient when watering your lawn, irrigate your lawn:

-->When the air is calm
-->In the early morning hours
-->When the lawn is showing signs of dry wilt-turns off color- usually a gray-green color


When watering:

Water deeply and infrequently. Proper use of sprinkler water will result in a healthier and attractive lawn.

Consider spot watering localized dry spots instead of the entire lawn.

Avoid irrigating until water runs off the lawn surface and on to walks and roads.

Tree shaded areas may require more water to support both trees and turf grasses.

When landscaping:

Select drought tolerant varieties like zoysia, centipede and bermuda grasses.
Reduce steep slopes in lawns so that water does not run off rapidly.
Consider letting the lawn go dormant in drought conditions-zoysia, centipede and Bermuda grass lawns will regenerate once water is more available.
Remove thatch so that the water easily reaches the soil around turf plants.

When fertilizing:

Fertilize lawn at proper rate for your location and turf selection.
Aerate heavy soils to promote better fertilizer and water penetration to lawn roots.

When mowing:

Mow lawn only when needed and avoid scalping.
Always use a sharp blade.
Mow as infrequently as possible.
In drought conditions, mow at a higher cutting height with a sharp blade.

Watering your lawn is the most important part of a successful lawn care program.

Closely trimmed grass has served mankind for centuries. Evidence suggests that lawns were present in China more than 5,000 years ago and that the Mayans and Aztecs had lawns in the New World.

Healthy lawns produce benefits such as:

* Increased property values A well-kept lawn gives a pleasing appearance to residential and commercial properties. Lawns make sports fields and play areas safer.

* Cleaner air Lawns trap more than 23 million tons of dirt and dust annually. Lawns absorb global warming gases. A 50 foot by 50 foot turf are absorbs carbon dioxide; hydrogen fluoride gases and releases enough oxygen to meet the needs of a family of four.

* Cooler air around us The average front lawn provides more than twice the cooling effect if the normal whole house air conditioner fro the same house.

* Prevention of rainfall loss Healthy lawns guard against loss from water runoff and can help control erosion.

(c) 2009 Metro GreenScape

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