Watering tips for the lawn

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.

Extreme temperatures
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.

Advertisements

What’s your soil?

Whether you are an avid gardener, in the industry or you are just looking for more detailed information about your lawn, understanding your soil profile is important.  Some plants perform better in clay while others are happier in sand – this is a subject we will get more in depth with in a later blog post.

The Web Soil Survey website is a great resource when trying to find general information about an areas soil type, it is maintained by the USDA and offers up lots of great tools that a free to use. I’ll walk you through a very quick tutorial about how to utilize this site. You may find it here: http://websoilsurvey.sc.egov.usda.gov/App/WebSoilSurvey.aspx

web soil survey screen shot
web soil survey screen shot

On the left you will see an option for “Quick Navigation/Address”.  Type in the area of the soil you wish to look up. Keep in mind, your area of interest has to be relatively small plots, you can’t pull a whole county. We put our shop address in.


 

web soil survey screen shot
web soil survey screen shot

There is a tool that allows us to draw which area of our visual we wish to survey (AOI, we selected the rectangle tool).


 

web soil survey screen shot
web soil survey screen shot

And here’s our plot. The green rectangle and diagonal lines indication our Area Of Interest (AOI).


 

web soil survey screen shot
web soil survey screen shot

Next, click “Shopping Cart (Free)” near the top and “Check Out”.  A .pdf report will be generated for download and it contains useful information that will be helpful in determining the soil profile of the AOI. (my browser actually blocks the pop up for this download, if nothing happens after clicking “Check Out”, look into your pop-up blocker).


 

web soil survey screen shot
web soil survey screen shot
web soil survey screen shot
web soil survey screen shot