HOW MUCH WATER TO APPLY:
The amount of water that you apply is critical in determining if enough water is applied to wet the entire root zone, and is a major factor in determining how deep your root system is. Our soils will typically hold 1″ of water in the top 12″ of soil. In order to help develop a root system that is 8″ deep, apply ¾” of water per application. Since all irrigation systems are different, it is not possible to give you a certain amount of time to run your irrigation system. To determine how long it takes to apply ¾” of water, scatter a number of cans or other straight cylindrical containers on each zone. Run the sprinklers. Use a ruler to measure the depth of water in each container. When your containers average ¾” of water, note the time. Check all of your zones and set each zone to the time recorded. Different sprinkler heads put out different amounts of water.
DETERMINING HOW OFTEN TO WATER:
We do not have the ability to give you an absolute daily schedule of how frequent to water. The reason is that different areas will retain moisture at different rates. Further, lawns will require different watering frequencies at different times of the year. Therefore, the best way to determine when to water is to let the grass tell you. Grass will begin to wilt when watering is needed. The signs of wilt to look for are: leaf blades folding in half lengthwise, blue-gray appearance to areas, footprints remaining long after being made. These symptoms should just start to occur before water is applied. Watering too frequently will promote weeds such as dollarweed and sedge. Not watering frequently enough will result in brown and dead areas and weeds such as sandspur, pusley and spurge which like dry conditions.
DEALING WITH LOCALIZED DRY SPOTS:
Check your sprinkler system for even coverage. Brown areas of a lawn may be noticed during prolonged periods with no rain. These may be areas where the sprinklers do cover, but it may not be applying enough water to wet the entire root zone. If for example the sprinklers were applying ¼” only about 3″ of soil would be being wet. This area would dry out much more quickly than an area that receives the proper amount of water. Simply watching the irrigation system run will not tell you that areas are receiving an adequate amount of water. Measure the amount of water being applied in this area using the same method as described previously. Localized dry spots can also occur if the soil becomes hydrophobic. This is a very common condition where the soil can begin to repel water. This can be determined by placing some of the soil in the palm of your hand. Gently run water over the soil. After a few seconds, pour the water off. If the soil is still dry, it is hydrophobic. This situation can be temporarily corrected by applying a mildsoap and water mixture over the area. The soap will break the surface tension of the soil and allow for the water to be more readily accepted.
DETERMINING HOW OFTEN TO MOW:
A smooth, dense turf surface is attained from frequent and regular cutting of grass blades at a constant height. Mowing causes changes in the metabolism and appearance of the grass. Whenever a grass is mowed, plant respiration increases and root growth temporarily ceases. The primary factor in how much stress is incurred is the percentage of leaf area that has been removed. A grass should never be mowed of more than 1/3 of its leaf surface at any given time. In other words, if a St. Augustine lawn is being maintained at 3″ to 3 1/2″ it should be mowed when it reaches a height of 4 to 4 1/2″.
Proper mowing also involves keeping the mower blade sharp and well balanced. A cleanly cut leaf blade heals easier and loses less water.
DETERMINING PROPER MOWING HEIGHT:
Proper mowing is also essential for good quality turf. The amount of leaf surface determines the amount of food that the root system will receive through the process of photosynthesis. More leaf surface will provide for a healthier root system. A more extensive root system will mean better access to water and will reduce the need for supplemental irrigation. Mowing at the proper height also improves the ability of the turf to compete with weeds. When a turf is mowed too short, it will appear less dense and the root system will be weakened. A thick and healthy lawn is fundamental to the control of weeds. Proper mowing height is particularly important when in a shady environment where the amount of sunlight is already limited. Most St. Augustine lawns should be cut at 3″ to 3 1/2″, Seville St. Augustine at 2 1/2″ and Centipede at 3 1/2″ to 4″. According to LSU, mowing turf too low probably ruins more lawns than any other turf management practice.
One frequently asked question is whether it is harmful or beneficial to mulch your grass clippings. According to the Department of Agriculture, there are great benefits to removing the bag from your lawn mower and dropping the clippings. In fact, they say that the dry weight of grass clippings contain about 3% Nitrogen. That means that 100 pounds of dry grass clippings contain about the same amount of Nitrogen as a 50-pound bag of 6-6-6. Dropping your grass clippings returns valuable nutrients to the soil such as Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Iron, and Manganese. Dropping your grass clippings does not contribute to thatch buildup. As a matter of fact, grass clippings contain sugars which stimulate microbes which help decompose thatch. It could actually be called a bio-dethatcher.
As you can see, not removing your grass clippings is beneficial to your lawn. It is also beneficial to our environment. It has been said that we could save more than 10% of our land fill space simply by not bagging our grass clippings. Since this practice also results in less mowing time, go ahead and remove the bag.
Call Us today – (800) 391-2565 for a free assessment and control estimate or just Contact Fischer . Please take a look at our pest prevention program and residential treatment checklist.Written By Bob Kunst
Filed in: Lawn Care Tips