Watering lawns

22 Apr 2012 Comments 0

Watering lawns

If you want your lawn to look green, it will need water and fertilizer. If you only want your lawn to remain alive in a dry, brown, dormant state, you might be able to do that with 75% less water.

For most of us, saving water is the obvious, it is the cheapest but not the most beneficial thing you can do to our lawn. Watering is a very misunderstood factor in a lawn maintenance routine. The goal of irrigating your lawn is very simple: to replace the moisture that is lost due to evaporation. Any more or any less will cause the lawn to suffer in times of stress. Generally, given our weather patterns, it is not necessary to irrigate the lawn on a regular basis until the summer starts.

  • How much?

    The technique of determining how much to water your lawn is simple: Place a small rain gauge or dig a metal jam tin in the lawn (top edge level with the soil) when your sprinkler is running and see how many minutes it takes to fill the gauge to a level of 25mm. Then, over a period of days, see how long it takes for the 25mm of water to evaporate out of the gauge or tin. This will tell you when and how much to water. You may be surprised!

  • When?

    The time of day makes a difference. One basic rule: water your lawn when the least amount of water will be lost to evaporation. Watering early in the morning before the heat of the day will make sure your water goes down to the roots instead of going up in vapor. Avoid watering during the middle of the day when the heat is highest.

  • How often?

    Be sure to follow the "25 millimeter" guide described above. Frequent, but shallow, watering causes the grass to send roots up to the surface looking for water where they will suffer more during hot spells. Water longer in each spot. Also be sure to water more along paths and kerb-stones. These areas dry out faster due to more heat build up.

  • A word to irrigation sprinkler owners

    Become familiar with how your system operates! It is very important to "calibrate" your system so that your lawn is being watered correctly for each zone. Get to know your garden, not all watering zones need to be running the same length of time. Many irrigation systems have overlapping areas between flowerbeds and lawns. These systems are designed to save on the installation cost, less solenoid valves with allocated watering zones, a smaller computer water timer, less sprinklers, etc. Technically this is incorrect because flowerbeds and lawns don’t necessary need the same volume of water also the watering frequency need not be the same, designs like this often is wasting water and could promote plant and lawn diseases.

There is no hard and fast rule as to how much and how often your lawn needs water, there are too many factors playing a role in the watering process, such as the soil type for instance, sandy soils will require more frequent watering. A sunny garden may also need more watering, wind factors play an important role, especially coastal winds will cause a lot of moisture evaporation. In my experience most damage is done by cutting the lawn too short especially in mid summer. Newly planted lawns also need more frequent watering then established lawns. Certain lawns are more draught tolerant then others, but all lawns require enough water to look their best. I was asked years ago by an experience gardener, how much liquid I drank in a day, including coffee and tea, I could not answer the exact number of cups and glasses, I said; “it depends, if I am thirsty I will drink a lot of water and on another day little or non”, He said; “exactly, grass is a living entity, just treat it as such”

How much water a lawn needs can only be determined by the owner or the person in charge of the lawn. Follow the 25 mm guideline, try to be sensitive and when you have developed a feeling for what is too much or too little, watering is easy.

No need to be apprehensive, your lawn won’t die if you did not water it for a few days, just give it a little extra the next time you water. Remember sandy soils may need to be watered more frequently, clay and loamy soils will hold more moisture content and you will there for be able to space the days between one watering and another. What ever you do make sure you don’t cut your lawn too short.


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