Irrigation is one of the most important factors in maintaining our lawns. Irrigation systems should be reset seasonally to reflect the water requirements of different grasses based on the time of year. Proper winter irrigation is just as important as that of any other season.
How frequently should you water?
Irrigation frequency varies based on the type of grass, rainfall amounts, soil type, shade presence, geographical location and season. Failure to adjust for seasonal changes usually leads to overwatering. Overwatering increases disease susceptibility and thatch buildup and leads to a shorter root system, which reduces the turf’s stress tolerance and ability to survive with less water. Overwatering also promotes the growth of certain weed species such as dollarweed and sedge.
In the winter months, St. Augustine grass with 6-inch roots can go without irrigation for as many as 10-28 days. University of Florida IFAS Extension recommends watering lawns on an “as-needed” basis, which can be determined by looking for the following signs:
- Leaf blades that are folded in half lengthwise to conserve water
- Grass that begins to have a blue-gray tint
- Footprints or tire tracks that remain visible on the grass
Not all parts of your lawn have the same irrigation needs. Grass that grows in the shade will require much less irrigation. Sandy soils can require more frequent irrigation.
Check with your local Water Management District to learn about any watering restrictions in your area.
How much should you water?
The amount of water applied does not vary seasonally. Efficient watering wets only the turfgrass root zone and does not saturate the soil or allow water to run off. When grass begins to show stress symptoms, ½ to ¾ inch of water should be applied.
When should you water?
The best time for lawn irrigation is early morning. During the day, excess evaporation can waste water. Watering in the evening extends the time the lawn is wet from dew and can lead to disease.
It’s important to check your irrigation system regularly to make sure it is operating properly and providing uniform coverage. Contact the experts at Massey Services for a free inspection and recommendations on an irrigation maintenance program that’s right for you.