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Watering Tips: help save you money while improving the health of your lawn.



Irrigation is the process of adding supplemental water when rainfall is insufficient to meet the needs of the plant. In dry regions, irrigation is necessary for turf survival.

Limited water supplies across the country have placed a new emphasis on the responsible use of water. When water shortages occur, turf irrigation often is one of the first uses to be limited. Therefore, it is essential for responsible homeowners to know how to water their lawns effectively and efficiently.

The Texas Agricultural Extension Service provides the following guidelines for home lawn irrigation:

Homeowners should maintain a deep, infrequent irrigation schedule. This type of approach is recommended regardless of the water status, because it is better for the overall health of the lawn. It reduces disease, helps insure good air movement down to the root system, and conserves water.

Apply enough water to adequately wet the soil to a depth of 6 inches. The following steps can be used to determine how long you need to run your irrigation system.

* Set out 5-6 open-top cans randomly on the lawn (cans with short sides like tuna or cat food cans work best).

* Turn the sprinkler head or system on for 30 minutes.

* Measure and record the depth of water caught in each individual can.

* Calculate the average depth of water from all of the cans. For example you have used five cans in your yard. The depth of water collected in the cans were as follows: 0.5"(1/2"), 0.4", 0.6", 0.4", 0.6". Add the depths together and then divide by the number of cans you used (5 in this case). 0.5"+0.4"+0.6"+0.4"+0.6"= 2.5" / 5 cans = 0.5" of water in 30 minutes

* Use a garden spade or a soil probe to determine how deep the soil was wet during the 30-minute time period. Push the probe into the soil. It will push through the wet soil easily, but will become difficult when it reaches dry soil. Measure the depth of wet soil.

* Knowing how much water was applied in the 30 minute cycle and how deep that volume of water wet the soil, it is then easy to determine how long the sprinkler head must run to adequately wet the soil to a depth of 6 inches. (Example: The system put out inch of water in 30 minutes wetting the soil to a depth of 3 inches. Therefore, 1 inch of water will need to be applied to wet the soil to a depth of 6 inches giving a run time of 1 hour.)

3" wet soil = "of water = 30 minutes
6" wet soil = 1"of water = 1 hour

After you have adequately wet the soil, do not irrigate again until the grass needs it. Drought stress symptoms will develop when the lawn needs watering. Symptoms of drought stress include grass leaves turning a dull, bluish color, leaf blades rolling or folding, and footprints persisting for an extended period of time after walking across the lawn. Drought symptoms may develop in as little as 3 days or not for 15 days. In most situations, symptoms will develop in 5 to 7 days. Therefore under stage I rationing, turf grass quality should not drop.

Run-off can be a serious problem leading to significant water waste. Soil type and the application rate of the sprinkler system determine how quickly run-off will occur. If water is applied faster than it can move down into the soil, it can run off the site of application and be lost. Special attention must be paid to eliminate this type of water waste.

To Prevent Run-off

* Monitor the lawn during the course of several irrigation cycles looking for water running onto sidewalks, streets or gutters.

* Note how long the sprinkler was run prior to run-off. This is the new maximum run time for any one irrigation cycle that will prevent water losses due to run-off.

* Allow the soil surface to dry (30 minutes to 1 hour).

* Change your irrigation timer to the new shorter time and begin watering again.

* Continue this cycle until enough water has been applied to wet the soil six inches deep.

Other Considerations:

* Continue an as needed mowing schedule, remembering to mow often enough to remove no more than 1/3 of the leaf blade at any one time.

* Be sure to adjust your sprinkler cycles if it has rained, or if rain is in the forecast. We've all seen automatic sprinklers running during a rain storm. There is no greater waste of this precious resource!

Please call today for your FREE Lawn Consultation.

You can reach Scott Marquart anytime at 314-494-8863.