Sprinker System Installation

Lawn Maintenance Tips

A Watering Program That Works! Lawns grow best when they are watered heavily at infrequent intervals. On an average, the lawn needs about 1 inch of water a week either from rain or irrigation during the growing season. This 1 inch will normally soak the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches, which allows the water to reach deep into the root system. Soil types vary in the speed at which water will soak in.

You must determine the rate of application of your sprinkler system to set up a watering program. An easy way to do this is to set out a series of cans if you have an underground system or a couple of cans if you use a single sprinkler. Run the system 30 minutes and measure the water in the cans. With a little simple math, you can determine the length of time to apply 1 inch of water. Watch for runoff during the watering period. It is very possible that your lawn will not be able to soak up the water as fast as your sprinkler is putting it on. If this occurs, shut it off and wait 30 minutes, and then turn it on again. Also, remember that sloped areas have a greater tendency for runoff.

The best times to water your lawn are in the early morning or early evening when there is generally less wind and heat. The least desirable times are in the heat of the afternoon, when the water evaporates too quickly, and very late in the evening, which can cause the lawn to stay wet all night. This encourages disease development. Over-watering is worse than under-watering. Most grasses can live through reasonably long periods of drought. Water only when the soil is dry 4 to 6 inches below the surface. Use a screwdriver or other probe to determine dryness. Also, if the grass doesn't spring back up after walking on it, it's probably time to put another inch of water on the lawn. Aeration Benefits run Deep Aeration is one of the most important maintenance practices we can employ to help the lawn remain healthy and help ward off problems. It is estimated that over two-thirds (2/3) of residential lawns are growing on compacted soils.

Many times, there is no evidence of insect or disease activity, but the lawn seems to be off-color, thinning, and shows signs of stress in high temperatures. In general, the lawn seems lethargic. Chances are good that the lawn hasn't been aerated in the past few years . . . if ever. Compaction is a physical process that slowly reduces the amount of oxygen contained in the soil and nutrient movement to the roots . . . the critical part of a healthy grass plant. Roots of the plant need oxygen, and as a product of their growth process, give off carbon dioxide. As compaction increases, less and less oxygen can enter the soil and less carbon dioxide can escape. The net result is a gradually thinning lawn until, ultimately, the soil can no longer support any turf growth. Aerification will prevent or help a number of problems, including compaction and thatch build-up. It opens passageways in the soil, allowing better air, water, and nutrient movement. During drought conditions, aeration helps water reach thirsty roots.

When rain is heavy, it allows air to penetrate and help dry up excess moisture. Each is a stress condition for your grass. Fall and spring are the best times to aerate . . . and also for over seeding and renovating with improved varieties of cool-season lawn grasses. Mid-spring to early summer are best for warm-season grasses like Bermuda or Zoysia. When the existing lawn is in fairly good condition and over seeding is being used to thicken the lawn, one or two passes with a core aerator may be the only soil preparation required. Weak existing grass, with a greater need for seed, may require additional passes with the aerator to open the soil properly.

For the best over seeding results with core aeration, rake the cores to the point where the holes are filled one-half to three-quarters with soil before applying the seed blend or mixture. Next spread a starter-type fertilizer that is higher in phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) than nitrogen (N). Then rake the remaining cores back into the soil. With this procedure, the seed should be covered enough to allow germination. If you decide to pickup the cores, spread a light topdressing to partially pre-fill the aeration holes before seeding. Then lightly cover the seed and fertilizer with additional topdressing. Proper watering is the major key to success. Like establishment of a new lawn, renovated or over seeded lawns need to be kept moist, but not soaked, until the new seeds begin to develop and grow a new root system. In 4 to 6 weeks, a normal watering program can be resumed. With more than 50% of the lawns in North America more than 10 years old, most could benefit from aerification and the planting of new lawn seed varieties to produce a healthier, denser lawn.

Lawn and Landscape Digest

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