Maintaining a consistent watering schedule is key to thick, beautiful and healthy grass. It will prevent heat stress that breaks down the pre-emergent weed and crabgrass barrier that are established with the first two fertilizer applications in April and late May / early June. Signs of a lack of water include thin turf, browning turf, and graying turf. Weeds and crabgrass will break through if water is not consistently applied to the grass!!!!
Ideally you will want to water 3 times per week for a total of 1 inch (during spring and fall) to 1.5 inches (during summer and extended periods of drought) per week. Remember to adjust watering frequency and amounts with what mother nature provides; i.e. don’t water the day after a 2 inch rainfall. Avoid light daily watering which will weaken the root system, rather water deep every 2-3 days to strengthen the plant roots.
How do you know if you are putting the correct amount of water down with your automatic or manual sprinkler system? The most effective method is to place a rain gauge in the yard and measure how much water goes down in a certain time. During the heat of the summer, typically you will find that 1 hour in each area 3 days a week will provide the necessary moisture. During spring and fall, 15-30 minutes of water in each area, 3 times a week, may be all you need. Keep in mind that wide open areas exposed to all day sun will need more water than shaded areas and adjust water amounts accordingly. If the grass does not spring back up after walking on it or begins to show a gray appearance it’s time to water.
Is it possible to over water? Absolutely! Not only is over watering wasteful it too can have detrimental effects on grass such as creating the ideal environment for the development of fungus and other turf grass diseases.A general rule of thumb is 1 to 1.5 inches per week in two to three waterings.
During the heat of the summer you may reach a point where areas of the lawn turn brown due to lack of enough water. When the turf has turned brown in extreme heat and as a result of lack of water it will have entered a state of dormancy.
We recommend avoiding allowing the turf to go dormant as it will place unnecessary stress on the turf and allow for weeds to infiltrate the lawn.
If the lawn has gone dormant you can bring it out of dormancy by applying significant amounts of water and soaking the areas to saturation. The recommend method to pull these areas out of dormancy is to apply water over each area for durations of 3-5 hours to completely saturate the area so it is as soft and wet; similar to a wet sponge. Water these 3-5 hour durations every 3 days for approximately 2 weeks. You will see new turf beginning to grow through after 2 weeks. When the new turf begins to grow through resume a watering schedule that provides ample water on a weekly basis using an infrequent and deep watering method.
The height at which grass is mowed plays a vital role on the overall health of the plant. MOW HIGH!!! This puts less stress on the plant, shades the crown, and reduces evaporation of water. A mowing height of 3 inches is ideal, yet no less than 2.5 inches is recommended. It is unnecessary to bag grass and doing such will remove vital nutrients that the grass has moved from the soil and roots to the leaf of the plant. By returning grass clippings to the turf you are recycling those nutrients as well as providing necessary thatch that will aid in moisture retention.