All spring long we’ve had to mow our lawns at least once a week to keep up with its rapid growth. Like most of you, I’ve been mowing it low to try and gain some time between mowing. When the heat and dryness of summer arrive, we need to adjust our attitude and our mowing height. To help your lawn survive dry summer weather let it get taller…as tall as your lawn mower will adjust…4” to 5”. If you continue with the low mow, the sun will heat the soil to temperatures that will kill the roots of your grass. A lawn left long shades the soil. You may like the look of a shorter lawn, but if the soil temperature goes above 85° to 90° for three consecutive days, the root system dies. Once that happens, you’re looking at a lot of grass seed and a lot of watering in late summer and early fall to repair the lawn
There comes a time when you just must water. Traditional wisdom tells us that, for a lawn to remain healthy, it needs an inch of water a week. What you need to know, though, is that the lawn needs that inch of water all at once to get any real benefit from it. Water your lawn heavily then not at all for a week. With a limited amount of water available to most of us, we try and move the sprinkler around the yard to make sure that we get the whole lawn watered at one time without any regard to whether it is getting enough water for more than temporary relief. If you have watering restrictions that only allow you to water every other day for two hours, let your lawn sprinkler soak one area for the full two hours. When your next watering opportunity arrives, move the lawn sprinkler to the next section and soak it with at least an inch of water. Folks with underground sprinkling systems need to follow the same advice. Set them up to soak one zone each day with an inch of water then do a different zone the next day. By putting an inch of water on the lawn, you’ll be soaking the soil to a depth of 6”. Water at this depth in the soil will not evaporate quickly, and it’s where the roots of the grass are located so it can be absorbed. Quickly spraying the lawn might perk it up briefly but most of that moisture is lost to evaporation and can never penetrate deep into the soil to get to the roots.
At this point folks will ask, “How long do I need to leave the sprinkler on to put on an inch of water?” Since we all have different lawn sprinklers and water pressure, I can’t answer that question. This is something we must all determine on our own. You simply need to take a small, empty tuna fish can and place it in the area you’re watering. Don’t shut it off until it is full. Make a mental note of how long it took, and you’ll always know how long your setup takes to put out an inch of water. That’s it. Water deeply then take a break for a week. Thanks for the read.