Proper Watering Tips
How You Water Your Lawn Can Make a Difference
During periods of drought conditions it is important that you water your lawn. If drought conditions extend too long, the grasses will react defensively to this and move into a dormancy state. They “harden off” in order to prevent complete loss of vital cell moisture. Once this dormancy state occurs, it takes 2-3 weeks of sustained moisture before the plants revive themselves. Sometimes certain localized areas in the lawn become baked and dried out to the extent that they become “hydrophobic”. In this state water is not absorbed and simply runs off. When this occurs it can be remedied by aerating these areas, or also apply a soapy detergent which will help break down the hydrophobic condition and allow water to be absorbed.
How Important Is It?
Adding water to the lawn should be given high priority in your lawn management program. With the proper use of water, maximum benefit can be derived from each gallon, and the quality and appearance of the turf can be improved. During dry weather money spent for water on a well-managed lawn will eliminate or reduce costly lawn renovation later in the fall.
Water comprises about 80 to 90 percent of the structure of a grass plant and is therefore a very important element for proper growth and continued good appearance. It is essential that adequate moisture be maintained in the soil to replace that lost to drainage, evaporation and plant consumption.
When Should I Water?
Checking the soil and the turf itself is the only way to determine when water is needed and to follow a proper watering program. Evidence of a blue-gray color and/or “foot-printing” on the turf is an indication that wilts is imminent. Another guide is the use of a soil probe to check the soil moisture content and distribution in the upper six inches of the soil. Watering on a regular basis will protect your grass from many harmful conditions. Healthy grass is more resistant to natural problems.
How Much Should I Water?
To check the discharge of your sprinkler, place three or more straight-sided cans in a line at intervals out from the sprinkler. Place the can nearest the sprinkler no closer than eight to ten feet. When the average depth of water in the three cans is one to 1 1/2 inches, sufficient water has been applied.
The rate of application should not exceed the rate that the soil can absorb it, or water may rest on the surface. This surface water could lead to compaction of the soil, scald and submersion injury, and general deterioration of the turf. Persistently wet soils give rise to weeds such as nutsedge, poa trivialis and others.
What is the Right Time of Day?
Many lawn keepers disagree over what time of day to water. So you’ll find there is much to be said either for or against any particular time. However, don’t believe the popular fallacy that grass is harmed if watered during the middle of the day when the sun is hottest. Early morning or late afternoon watering may be preferable to late evening. Watering at night allows water droplets to remain on the leaves for an extended period, resulting in greater disease problems.
Proper Mowing Benefits the Turf
One of the most important factors in developing a fun, well-manicured lawn is the use of proper mowing techniques. Good mowing practices improve the quality of the turf, reduce weed infestation, help control water consumption, and lessen weather-related stress.By the same token, improper mowing is the cause of more lawn, problems than any other maintenance practice. If you follow a few important guidelines when mowing, you can help the turf develop into a more healthy, attractive lawn.
To get the most out of the grounds you care for, remember these tips:
Be sure your mower is set at the right height
The recommended mowing height is three inches. Cool-season grasses, like we have In Michigan, should be mowed taller than warm-season grasses. Hot weather is a stress for cool-season grasses. Extra foliage helps protect the ground against heat and furnishes more food-producing area. Cutting the grass too short and infrequently will cause it to be thin and weak, and it will eventually be taken over by weeds. Exceeding the recommended length will cause the grass to become stemmy, coarse, and it may mat down. Remember to check cutting blade height on a flat surface before mowing.
Cut only one-third of the leaf surface
Schedule your mowing so as to remove only one-third of the leaf surface at any one time. Removing too much of the leaf at one cutting is a severe shock to the grass. This causes thinning, curtailment of root growth, excessive clippings and unnecessary watering for the grass to recover. Additionally, cutting grass that has grown too long is hard on equipment, requires more fuel, and takes longer to mow. You should make an effort to mow often enough to avoid excessive clippings. If you only cut 1/3 of the grass blade each time, it is not necessary to pick up the clippings. They put almost 25% of your fertilizer back into the soil, as well as retaining more moisture in the lawn since 80% of a grass blade is water.
Keep the mower blade sharp
The key to a quality job is a sharp blade. Dull blades beat and tear the grass and leave frayed leaf tips, which turn brown. Sharp blades cut cleaner and quicker with less power. Inspect the blades often for nicks and dullness, and sharpen them often.
Mow at a different angle each time
You should make a point of mowing in a different direction each time to help avoid soil compaction and turf wear caused by the mower wheels. Repeatedly throwing clippings on uncut grass is harder on the mower, wastes fuel and does a poor job of cutting.