Summer is officially here and while that means cookouts and vacations are in full swing, it also means that the temperatures are starting to get H-O-T! The rain we grew accustomed to during the spring season will continue to become less and less frequent, and homeowners will now have to rely on their own irrigation system/equipment to supply the water needed for the lawn. Knowing just how much water your lawn needs and how often it needs it starts with what type of grass you have. On average, a standard Bermuda grass lawn will require 3.7 inches of water applied during the month of July and 3.4 inches of water during the month of August to compensate for the summer heat. Fescue lawns require even more water than Bermuda with the averages coming out to 6.5 for July and 6.0 for August!
The most important thing to remember about irrigating your lawn, is that you need-need-need to routinely check the system during these hotter months. If your system isn’t working properly then you are not only running the risk of damaging your lawn but you are also wasting water for no reason. For more serious leaks you will need a licensed irrigator to come and make repairs but a simple visual observation to make sure the spray nozzles are working correctly, are not broken, and are pointing in the right direction can save you from wasting your $$$ on a high water bill. A question we get asked a lot in this industry is, how long do I need to be running the sprinklers during the summer to keep my grass healthy? The answer will vary from house to house because the way water is delivered to a lawn will vary from system to system (ie. water pressure, type of sprinkler, etc..). A simple home test can be done to see how long it takes for you to get the amount of desired water on the lawn. You can place a small rain gauge, tin can, or measuring cup in your lawn and turn the sprinklers on for about 25-30 minutes. When the water shuts off, go collect your measuring device and see how much water made it into the catch basin and make adjustments to the run time based off your results.
There are a couple of other things you can be doing as a homeowner, during the summer, to ensure that your lawn is staying healthy through the heat. Consider putting down an organic soil conditioner during the heat to help improve the quality of your soil. Organic material is vital for healthy plant growth and with the quality of our native soil being so poor, this is an easy way to help reverse that. Testing your soil every 1-3 years is also a great idea to make sure that your lawn stays in good health. Soil pH can be adjusted by applying Sulfur to lower a high pH and Lime to raise a low pH, testing will also reveal the nutrient levels of the soil and adjustments can be made with the proper fertilization program. Make sure you are watering your lawn at the appropriate time of day. Watering during the heat of the day is never recommended for turf-grass since the rate of evapotranspiration is significantly higher during the day. The ideal window for water is generally in the early morning hours between 2:00-6:00 am. Another good rule of thumb about watering is that it is always better to water for longer periods of time less frequently than it is to water for shorter periods of time more often. Giving your lawn a deep soaking will encourage the roots of your grass to grow deeper, resulting in a healthier, thicker turf. Keeping your grass at the appropriate height is crucial as well, Bermuda grass should be maintained at as height of 1.5-3 inches and Fescue grass between 3-4.5 inches, if you cut your grass too low you run the risk of damaging your lawn from the intensity of the sun.
Water conservation is not just important for your wallet but it’s important for the world we live in. Use these tips to your advantage and remember-remember-remember to check your system as often as you run it, to ensure it continues functioning properly!