We have seen many thoughts about proper watering over the last couple of years for good reason. While at times it seems that water may be an infinite resource, droughts often teach us otherwise.
One of the most common questions we are asked is, "How do I maintain a beautiful lawn?" There are a few simple steps that you can take. Here are some of the easiest steps that can make all the difference.
Start identifying when your lawn actually needs water. If you notice your lawn taking on a dull green appearance, footprints remaining visible after light foot traffic and leaves rolling or curling – its time to water. Remember that when you water, your goal is to water the entire root zone. For the most part, your lawn’s root system is within the top 8" of the surface of the soil, this is the area that you want to saturate.
Believe it or not, 1 or 2 long waterings are much more valuable than several short waterings. You want to encourage the lawn’s roots to go to the deeper reaches of the soil. Short waterings promote a weak, shallow root system. Longer watering times encourage the roots into the deepest reaches of the soil. Most lawns require 1"-1.5" of water a week to maintain a healthy appearance. You should focus on getting this amount of water down as quickly as possible, without runoff. Once you have reached the desired amount of water – let your lawn dry out before watering again. Overwatering will promote a weak lawn.
"When should I mow?" You should mow as high as possible and as often as possible. Frequent cuttings will promote a lush, dense lawn. Remember to sharpen the blades on your mower at least once a year, or after you hit any obstructions. Sharp blades make a clean cut, dull blades rip and tear the grass. Longer blades of grass are traditionally represented by deeper roots. You don't want to cut more than 1/3 the total height of the grass in any one cutting. Cutting more than this can result in scalping and weakening the natural defenses of the turf.
Mulching your grass clippings back into the turf helps to replenish the organic content of the soil. Be careful to avoid excess thatch buildup. If you notice areas that appear thin and/or have a "mat" of old partially decayed trimmings, it would be beneficial to bag the trimmings for a month or two and allow the composting process to catch up.
Let’s address the water application process. A common misconception is that an automatic sprinkler system uses more water than a traditional hose with a spray nozzle. Studies have shown that homeowners which use the hose and sprayer method use up to 2.5 times the amount of water needed versus using an automatic system.
The key in any watering plan is uniformity! The reason you will use less water with an automatic sprinkler system (properly designed), is because it places the water evenly across the lawn without creating wet or dry spots. With an automatic sprinkler system, you don’t have to worry about turning the system on and off.
Remember to water in the early morning! Furthermore, during the early morning hours you will lose the least amount of water to evaporation and wind. If you have trees or shrubs planted in lawn areas, remember to give them additional water.
If you have more questions on how to take care of your lawn or landscaping give us a call!