Sunday, March 4, 2012

Big Drink of Water

Many homeowners irrigate their lawns incorrectly. Overwatering is the most common mistake; it can damage or even kill the lawn. Overwatering leads to a shallow root system; increases a lawn's vulnerability to weeds, insects, and diseases; reduces drought tolerance; increases thatch; encourages excessive growth; and reduces tolerance for environmental stress.
Letting your lawn “tell you when to water” means turning your irrigation system to “off” and operating it only when your lawn shows signs of drought stress.

How much water does grass need?

Water requirements vary based on grass species, time of year, geographic location, soil conditions, amount of shade, and overall maintenance of a lawn. Because these varied factors each affect a lawn, rigid guidelines for your lawn’s irrigation frequency may not be accurate. Consult with us at http://www.KellerKuts .com or call us 772-215-7132 for recommendations on irrigation frequencies for your area.
In many parts of Florida, irrigation frequency is regulated by Water Management Districts. You may not lawfully irrigate more frequently than Water Management District regulations for your area allow.  Be aware, as well, that you do not necessarily need to irrigate as frequently as these regulations allow. Instead, let your lawn tell you when to water.

Figure 1. Zoysiagrass lawn under drought stress.

Credits: Dr. J. Bryan Unruth, UF/IFAS

How will I know when to water?

Look for the following signs and consider watering when you see at least one of them:
  1. Folding leaf blades. Drought-stressed lawns will curl up their leaf blades lengthwise in an attempt to minimize leaf area (Figure 1). Wilting is best seen on the older leaves of the grass plant, as the younger leaves are not fully developed and may appear wilted even when they are not.
  2. Blue-gray color. Drought-stressed lawns turn from green to bluish-gray.
  3. Footprints remaining visible. When footprints or tire tracks remain visible on your lawn long after being made, your lawn is experiencing drought stress.

How much wilt is O.K.?

The answer to this question is “it depends.” Warm-season turfgrasses can easily survive extended periods of drought by entering dormancy. It is okay to allow your grass to enter dormancy, provided you are prepared to see some wilt signs and browning of leaf blades.
If a period of limited or no rainfall or irrigation is prolonged, you can expect your lawn to thin out and possibly experience increased weed pressure. If your desire is to maintain a uniformly green lawn during drought, you will need to apply supplemental irrigation. However, the supplemental irrigation must be carefully monitored. Unless rain is forecast in the next 24 hours, lawns should be irrigated when 30 - 50 percent of the lawn shows signs of wilt. How long it will take your lawn to exhibit wilt to this extent will depend upon the climate of your area and the soil conditions in your yard. Caution should be exercised when applying weed-control products, as they may harm an already-stressed turf.

Train your lawn's roots to grow deep.

One way to help your lawn endure drought is to encourage deeper rooting. Irrigate only when the grass begins to show one of the three signs of lawn thirst listed above. When you do water, apply the proper amount of water. These practices will increase rooting depth and overall turf-stress tolerance.

 Thank you for stopping by and till next week.

                                        Lee & Veronica


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