Summer begins today, but it sure feels like it made an early entrance this year in Oklahoma. It’s been way too hot for mid-June here, and it’s getting very dry all of a sudden. I’m afraid that we may be in for a long, hot, and dry summer in Oklahoma, as we experienced several times over the past few years. So now is the time to start irrigation of your lawn in order to keep it looking green and healthy.
I’ve found that many people with irrigation systems do not use them properly. Just last week I was visiting with a good customer about his lawn drying out, and he told me his system was coming on every day for about 10 minutes or so per cycle. However, the soil was very dry when I was there in the afternoon. Why? Well, only a few minutes per cycle is enough water in most cases to wet just the very top layer of soil. And with temperatures in the upper 90’s and sunshine all day, it does not take long for that soil moisture to just evaporate. And no water has a chance to really get down into the deeper soil layers, where the turf roots are located.
The key to proper watering is deep, but infrequent irrigation.
Water long enough so that you’ll be getting the soil wet to a depth of 6″. Most people will be surprised as to how long this takes most irrigation systems to provide. Having each cycle run for at least 30 minutes or more, even running through the cycles twice, may be needed. Supply about 1/2″ of water to all areas of the turf with each time you irrigate. By getting the water deep, the root system of the turf will grow deep and be able to absorb that water. Let the top 2 or 3 inches of soil dry out…..that’s OK. Just keep the deeper soil levels moist, and that takes longer irrigation times.
Water about 3 times per week, and not every day.
If you water 3 times weekly, supplying 1/2″ of water each time, then that’s 1.5″ per week, which generally should keep turf green and healthy. And if Mother Nature helps out any at all, then you can even cut back some on that watering schedule. However if it becomes very hot and dry into July and August with drought conditions, then you’ll need to water up to 2″ per week on fescue turf especially in order to keep it healthy and green.
Water only early in the mornings.
Do not set your sprinkler to come on or irrigate in the evenings, as this keeps the turf damp all night and could lead to turf disease, especially with brown patch on fescue. And don’t water in the middle of the afternoon, as with the heat and sun, some of it will simply evaporate and be lost. Set your system to come on early in the morning, so that more of the water can soak into the soil, and as the sun comes up it will dry out the grass. Plus, our LawnAmerica guy won’t be in the middle of treating your lawn only to have the sprinklers come on!
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