It’s summer and if you want to keep the grass green, you need to water it. If you do not water your lawn, it will discolor and go dormant (this is a method the turf uses to survive drought & heat as well as winter as nutrients are pulled into the root structure). At this point, you need to make a decision: you can water the lawn to keep it hydrated on a regular basis or you can let it go dormant – but you can’t water a couple of times a month and then let it go dormant to only water again two weeks later, that will promote a shallow root system.
If you let your lawn go dormant, count on it discoloring and thinning out. Although it looks like the turf is taking a beating, it should bounce back once favorable conditions come back into the area. If we go for 3-4 weeks with less than 1″ of moisture, then you can give your lawn a drink to help the root system stay hydrated.
There are many factors that play into how much water a lawn needs: shade, turf type, soil type, temperature, etc. Today we will talk about soil types.
Different soil types require different watering techniques.
Before we get into watering techniques, lets talk about how much water is ‘needed’. On average, your lawn will require 1 – 1.5″ of moisture a week to stay green and actively growing. Area precipitation should be noted as you do not want to or need to water if nature is doing it for you. Use a screw driver after a test run of the irrigation to see how deeply the moisture level in the soil goes, it should be between 6-8 inches (determined by how easily the screw driver can be pushed into the soil).
Ideal time frame: 7:00 am – 10:00 am (under ‘normal’ weather conditions)
Soil Type (under ideal conditions)
• Clay: Because clay is so dense, it is recommended to water every other or every third day for two 10-20 minute intervals (water for 10-20 minutes, allow the water to soak into the soil and water again for 10-20 minutes). Clay will hold more moisture, though run off might occur with one long watering cycle.
• Loam: Water every other or every third day. One run of 20-30 minutes.
• Sand: Leaching occurs in sandy soils, it is recommended to water every day or every other day for 20-30 minutes per watering or in intervals of two cycles a day (like clay) with a short break in-between. Sandy soils leach or run water through quickly, so the small break in between will help replenish moisture at the root zone if leaching is occurring.
When the temperatures exceeds 85 degrees for a few consecutive days or more, you can relieve heat stress from the lawn (usually only needed in full sun areas) by watering in the middle or hottest part of the day. Most of the water will evaporate before penetrating the soil and it is important to note that the mid-day watering goal is to relieve stress, not hydrate the lawn. Watering for 10 minutes will help relive heat stress from the lawn.
Important notes about watering & trees:
Most conifers/pine trees prefer dry soil. Be careful not to over water the pines.
Maple trees are surface feeding trees. If you have a maple and we are in the midst of drought-like conditions, give that area additional water as the maple tree will compete with the turf for moisture.