PROBLEMS CAUSED BY OVERWATERING
Shallowly rooted plants are easily stressed. When the roots of the turf plant die due to lack of oxygen, the plant is put under stress. This, in turn, makes them more susceptible to disease and insect damage. Minor disease and insect problems can become major lawn disasters when a lawn is shallowly rooted. Overwatering your lawn can cause a plethora of problems. I will list a few but there are many more.
Shallow Root Depth
Grass Thinning in Shade
Divots When Mowing
Rapid Thick Grass Growth
PROBLEMS CAUSED BY UNDERWATERING
The issues associated with under watering grass are much simpler but can still cause very real long term problems. When grass does not get enough water it goes into a dormancy phase. This dormancy is very similar to what your grass does during the winter months. However unlike the winter, if the grass does not start receiving water it will begin to die. Just because your grass begins to brown off in the summer heat does not mean it is dead but it does mean you need to act as quickly as possible to prevent permanent damage. Once the grass starts receiving adequate water it generally fully recovers in 1.5 -2 weeks. I will list a few common issues associated with under watering.
Poor Water Retention
WHY IS PROPER WATERING SO IMPORTANT?
Properly watering your lawn will prevent disease, bug problems, weeds, and help ensure you get the most value out of the services we provide. It will not only help create a beautiful lush lawn but help your lawn create proper root structure and will help build your soil. You can fertilize and treat weeds correctly but if the lawn is not watered correctly…… all of the time, money and effort put into your lawn will be wasted. Proper watering is one part of four key ingredients you need for a healthy lawn. The four items are fertilizing, weed/bug control, proper mowing, and proper watering. You can do all of these things correct but forget one, and they all fall apart.
There is actually a science dedicated to properly watering plants. It is called the science of Evapotranspiration which is mostly employed in the agricultural industry. Definition of Evapotranspiration is the process by which water is transferred from the land to the atmosphere by evaporation from the soil and other surfaces and by transpiration from plants. Basically, every plant needs a certain amount of water to survive and be healthy but there are outside factors at play that create restriction to how much water the plant actually receives. Evaporation is the key factor. The two most common factors into how much water is evaporated are air temperature and wind. Your lawn needs more water during high heat months because of the effects of evaporation (this is a basic explanation). Therefore the amount you water your lawn in the spring and fall will not be the same amount you water during the heat of the summer. The actual water needed by your lawn will change almost monthly to account for current weather, which means your watering schedule for your sprinklers needs to be adjusted monthly. There are other factors as well.
Soil type is another factor. I will not go into great detail but the most common types of soil in this valley are loam, clay, and sand. Each of these soils retain water in different ways, which means you will water differently in clay soil vs loam or sand.
The last major factor is the type of grass we are watering. The most common grass used in the valley is Bluegrass. Bluegrass has an average rooting depth between 2-6 inches. Since most grass varieties have no real way of storing water, the only water the Bluegrass will have access to, is the water in the first 2-6 inches of the soil. For this reason, “Deep watering” will generally not work for Bluegrass. Knowing the type of plant you are watering and watering accordingly is very important.
HOW TO SET UP A WATERING SCHEDULE
There are all sorts of “how to” instructions or videos online on how to set up sprinkler schedules. The problem is that everyone’s soil conditions, sun exposure, type of grass, wind exposure, and sprinkler coverage are different. Which means there are too many variables from one property to the next to give specific watering times to each property and have them be accurate or specific to the needs of your property. You will have to spend a little time on your property with your sprinkler system to get everything functioning correctly. This is how you achieve that:
The first thing you want to do is set up a generic watering schedule. This will be used as a baseline so that you know how to proceed further. You will set up a program on your sprinkler system and then let it run for one week. DO NOT make constant changes every couple days. If you make continual changes throughout the week you will have no idea what changes were positive and which were negative. You need this sprinkler program to run for a week so that you know what changes you need to make moving forward.
Now that you have run the generic sprinkler program for a week, take a walk around your yard. If overall your grass is green and your lawn is not wet and muddy you are probably pretty close to where you need to be. If the entire lawn is still dry, try adding another day of watering to your schedule. If most of your lawn looks good but there is one section that is muddy or getting too much water, then locate that sprinkler zone on your system and turn down the run time on that particular zone only. If your whole lawn looks good except there is a dry area, locate that sprinkler zone on your system and turn the run time up on that particular zone only. Don’t make changes to the entire sprinkler system if you are only having problems in one area.
When adding or lowering run time to individual zones, only make small changes. Small changes can go a long way. For instance try adding 5 minutes. If you are already watering 15 minutes 2-3 days a week and the grass is still a little dry, increase the watering to 20 minutes 2-3 days per week. After you make these changes wait a week to see how your changes have affected your lawn. DO NOT make constant changes every couple days, it will ruin any progress you have made.
Now that you have made some adjustments from the week before walk around your lawn and note any problem areas. By this point however you should be very close or already have your sprinklers dialed in. Repeat step 2 for any fine tuning on individual sprinkler zones.
After you have “dialed” in your sprinkler system, changes from here become easier. Now as the season becomes warmer or cooler you simply need to add or subtract days from your water schedule. Early spring, you may be water 1 day a week and as the season gets warmer you will add more days to the watering schedule. By July when it is 100 degrees you may be all the way up to 6 days a week you are watering. As the season cools, usually starting the second week in August, you will begin to remove days of watering until the season ends. For the first season take notes on changes you made throughout the season. It will make the following season extremely easy.
As you become more familiar with your lawn and your sprinkler system you will start to notice a few things by default. You will notice shaded areas need substantially less water than areas in full sun, or you will begin to recognize how much wind and air temperature affect the water your grass uses and needs. Remember….. If you ever need help Organic Solutions! Inc. would be happy to schedule a sprinkler tech to assist you. 208-884-8986
|Type of Sprinkler||Spring||Summer||Fall|
|Pop-Up||15 minutes, 2-3 times per week||20-25 minutes, up to 6 times per week||15 minutes, 2-3 times per week|
|Rotor/Impact||30 minutes, 2-3 times per week||45-50 minutes, up to 6 times per week||30 minutes, 2-3 times per week|
- Never water the same day as mowing. In fact, if you can resist the urge not to water the day of mowing or the day before it will vastly improve the quality of lawn mowing
- Do not be scared to water multiple days in a row. During the heat of the summer I will commonly water my personal lawn 6 days in a row and leave one day of the week for mowing.
- Do not water the same day as any weed treatment. Grass should not be watered for 24 hours following any weed treatment!
- Fertilizer and pre-emergent need to be watered in as soon as possible
- If fertilizer and weed control have been applied at the same time wait 24 hours before watering.
- Sand!!! Watering in sandy soils can be a little more challenging. If you have sandy soil give us a call and we can go over a few different watering schedules.
- Some sprinkler issues need professional help, you may need adjustments, repair, replacement of certain components, etc…. If you are having a persistent problem give us a call and we can schedule our sprinkler tech to assist you. 208-884-8986