Why water ?
Important nutrient- Water is probably the most important nutrient that your lawn requires,
however, there are good and bad ways to water your lawn. One of the primary ways to promote the best lawn possible is through
proper watering. Careful attention to watering gives the best lawn possible with the least amount of water. This saves water
and money! It is also one of the best ways to strengthen the turf so that it is less susceptible to drought,
insects and disease.
About 10 percent of the water used by turf is to produce energy and growth. Many people don't
stop to consider that a lawn is made of nearly 1,000,000 turf plants in every 1,000 square feet. Like all plants they require
water from the soil to survive. The remaining water is used for cooling in much the same way our body cools itself through
perspiration. You've probably noticed that turf growing in shade requires less water than turf growing in full sun. Much
of this difference in water requirement is due to the fact that the shaded turf is cooler. It is important to maximize the
turf's use of water from rain and irrigation.
When should I water my lawn?
Never water your lawn or landscape in the heat of the day. This may actually cause more harm than good. The
droplets of water that remain on the grass, plants and flowers actually wilt the plant once the hot sun warms the water. Most
of the water that is being put down is also being evaporated due to the heat. It is best to water in the early morning
or early evening hours, but never late in the evening. This will give the ground a chance to soak the water
in and reach the root system of the plants. Watering late in the evening could possibly cause more disease and weed problems
as they tend to develop more at night than during the day.
How Much water does my lawn need?
Most lawns require
a minimum of one inch of water per week. This can be accomplished by watering each section for one hour at a time.
To ensure that your lawn is getting an inch per watering, place an empty tuna can in the lawn. Once the can is full you have
reached one inch. It is best to water in this manner 2 -3 times a week if possible. Rain is the best supplier of water due
to the natural occurrence of nitrogen, which is essential to the health of your lawn.
It is hard to ensure that
your lawn is getting enough water in some cases. Don’t be fooled by quick downpours. It may be a lot of water, but it
is coming down too fast to soak in and most of rain is drained away. A hard, short storm may still need to be supplemented
later in the week with a good watering.
Water is lost from your lawn through a process called evapotranspiration. Evapotranspiration--usually
referred to as "ET"-- is the combined effect of water used by the plant and that which is lost to evaporation. ET
is expressed in inches (or mm) of water per week. Your watering schedule should be set up to replace the water lost to ET.
Check with your local university extension for ET rates in your area. Many areas publish ET rates in the daily press.
How deep does the water need to be to penetrate?
Apply enough water to wet the soil to a depth of
approximately six to eight inches. A soil probe may be used to check moisture depth in soil. Maintaining a soil moisture
depth of six to eight inches usually requires a rate of one to two inches of water per week. You can place opened
cans in the sprinkler's pattern to determine the amount of water being applied. Don't give your lawn a light sprinkling.
This promotes shallow roots and it may not even reach the soil, depending on how much you water.
What happens during a drought?
When there is a dry spell, grass begins to turn brown. Flowers need to be watered more
frequently. Dirt patches dry up. Cracks form across the surface of the ground. After many weeks of such weather plants die
Erosion-The roots of the plants, which previously anchored soil down, can no longer
keep the soil from eroding. The dirt is then blown up by the wind, causing huge clouds known as dust storms. Because they
can turn the sky dark, they are sometimes known as black blizzards. While this is very uncommon for the east coast, in
other parts of the country droughts can destroy the landscaping and ruin home value on property.
What actually happens to grass during a drought?
Wilting-As the soil begins to dry
out the lawn will show a lack of available moisture by wilted leaf blades. This condition is evidenced by a lengthwise folding
or rolling of the blades, wilting, caused by a loss of water pressure within the plant . Wilting should be looked for on the
older leaves of the grass plant because the youngest leaf is not fully expanded and will appear as if it is already wilted.
Dormant stage-If your lawn can't get enough water it will first go into a dormant stage, often
marked by a bluish color. If the drought continues until the soil water is fully used, death will result for most cool-season
grasses. Bermudas and other warm-season grasses will probably recover, however, the lawn's quality will not.
How Can You Tell When The Grass Needs Water?
When walked on, footprint
imprints on grass remain visible for several minutes. When the grass blades don't spring back, it means wilting is
imminent so manually turn on the water long enough to supply a full inch. If too much water is allowed to leave the soil,
your lawn will not be able to extract what's left for its own use, leading to stress. This makes the grass weak and susceptible
to physical damage, insect damage and disease