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Grow Tips

Watering

Lush, verdant lawns are the dream of almost all homeowners. Aesthetically pleasing to the eye, a well-tended yard increases property values while serving the outdoor recreation needs of today's active families. Here are a few suggestions for watering your grass that will keep it vigorous and healthy, and perhaps save you some time and money as well.

Tip #1

Varieties of grass differ, from cool-season cultivars such as the ever-popular Bluegrass, to warm-season grasses--Bermudas, Zoysias, and the like. Bluegrass, for example, goes dormant and turns brown during hot summer months unless watered regularly, while Bermuda needs approximately ten inches less water per year to maintain a healthy green glow. If you're starting a lawn from scratch, be it seed or sod, pay particular attention to those strains best suited to your climate and lifestyle. A stop at your local lawn and garden store can be your best resource in this regard.

Tip #2

More harm is done by starting and stopping a watering program, especially after fertilization, than allowing grass to go dormant. A thorough drenching once or twice a week is better than a light daily sprinkling. Deep watering encourages healthy root systems to flourish. Allow your lawn to dry out between watering and send the roots downward in search of water.

Tip #3

There are three basic types of soil: loam, clay, and sandy. Loam is by far the best, with just the right amount of nutrients and friability to ensure good penetration, drainage, and adequate moisture retention. Clay-based soil is heavy and absorbs water more slowly resulting in a longer period of retention. A clay soil also compacts more easily, forcing roots closer to the surface in a search for room to grow, leaving them vulnerable to drought and white grub damage. Sandy soil is easily penetrated and drains quickly, but also dries out the fastest and will most likely need twice the watering during the hottest months.

Tip #4

Early mornings are the best time to water, when cooler air and calm winds mean less evaporation. Watering in early evening can be almost as effective, provided the wind is calm and the lawn has ample time to dry before darkness falls. Nighttime is not encouraged mainly because the grass stays wet until well after sunrise, an invitation to fungi.

Tip #5

Even coverage over the entire area is important to maintain a healthy lawn. To determine how well your sprinkler system is working, place several shallow containers--empty tuna fish cans, etc--about the area being watered and note the differences, then adjust accordingly.

Tip #6

Apply water only as fast as the ground can absorb it. Too much too quick and runoff will occur, which benefits neither your grass nor your pocketbook.

Tip #7

De-thatch your lawn. Thatch is the organic material that accumulates between the blades of grass over time and naturally decomposes to return nutrients to the soil. Thatch in excess of a quarter to a half-an-inch sheds water rather than allowing it to penetrate the turf.

Tip #8

Aerate your entire lawn every two to three years, and high traffic areas yearly. Aeration is simply poking small holes in the dirt to loosen compacted soil and improve moisture penetration. Small yards are easily managed with simple attachments worn on the shoes while larger areas may require the aid of a machine to get the job done.

Tip #9

Use a rain gauge to keep track of weekly rainfall amounts. If it rains an inch or more, don't water that week. The exceptions to this rule are summer thunderstorms, which usually dump prodigious amounts of water in a very short time. More of this moisture is lost due to runoff than is captured for use by your lawn.

Tip #10

Lastly, let the yard itself be your guide. Grass looks silver blue and faded, blades curled or rolling, just prior to turning brown. If a walk across your lawn leaves footsteps that don't readily disappear, it's time to water.