An abundance of rain has fallen over the past year. However, as we move into the summer, the heat and periods of dry weather can occur and be detrimental to our lawns. They require adequate amounts of water to remain healthy and attractive, and during periods of minimal rain, certain adjustments need to be made. Caring for your lawns with proper watering will reduce issues.

What are the signs of a dry lawn? Dry turf will look grey with the leaves wilting and starting to roll up and layover. An excellent way to see if your lawn needs watering is to walk over it then look back at your footprints. If the grass remains down where you have stepped — the lawn is getting dry.

Some parts of the lawn dry before others due to differing soil types that dry out quicker. Clay areas can dry out rapidly, too, because, in these areas, the grass has a smaller root system. Areas with sandy soil also hold less water and can suffer. Insects and diseases can also damage roots, causing drought stress on the grass. Finally, trees can draw water out of soils, causing the area under them to be very dry.

If you have an irrigation system, a dry spot may be due to improper coverage by the system. Place cups out to catch the water, run the system and then see how much it is putting out.

You may be able to change the pattern of the sprinkler heads to help cover these spots.

Also, look out for areas receiving too much water.

Remember, shrubs and trees require less frequent watering than lawns but like more water when irrigated. Watering trees and shrubs like lawns can kill them. They should be in separate zones.

How much and how often should you water? Water systems vary widely. Some people use fully automated, or manually operated sprinkler systems are moveable sprinklers. Others try hand watering, which involves using a hand-held nozzle to water lawn and flowers. Though this method may seem to be giving the lawn grass adequate amounts of water, it is not. Most people will not stand in one place long enough to thoroughly wet the spot. Hand watering does little for the lawn.

When watering — remember “timing” and “amount.” When timing water application, avoid applying it daily, which encourages developing a shallow root system that increases the lawn’s susceptibility to drought and freezes.

Water when the lawn shows signs of stress. The morning is the best time to water so it can dry before nightfall. The longer a lawn stays wet, the more prone it is to diseases.

Apply enough water to wet the upper six to eight inches of soil, which will require one inch of water a week if we receive no rain. Most sprinklers put out about one-fourth inch of water per hour, so it will take two to four hours to apply one inch of water. You can divide the water application over two days – one-half each day- if the lawn receives enough to penetrate deeply into the root zone.

Allow for the water to soak into the soil avoid applying at a rate the causes it to run off the soil. The soil will have difficulty absorbing the soil if it receives too much water at once.

If water is standing on the soil surface or running off the soil, move the sprinkler or turn it off and let the water soak in.

To determine how deep the ground is wet, push a spade or sharp probe into the ground two to four hours after irrigation, which will move quickly through moist soil and be harder to push when it hits dry soil.

The goal is to keep the soil in your lawn evenly moist, not soggy or bone dry. By applying the correct amounts of water correctly, you can have a lush and attractive lawn.

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Timothy Daly is an Agricultural and Natural Resource Extension Agent with UGA Extension Gwinnett.


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