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It's back on! Hook up with the entire KPRC Krew for the most fun allowed by law 1-7 p.m. at City Streets, 5078 Richmond. Join in a live broadcast with Chris Baker, and meet Pat Gray, Keith Malinak, Sweet Mike, Michael Garfield, Natalie Fitzgerald, Randy Lemmon, the Trivia Czar and more!! We'll have a free happy hour buffet, free soft drinks and drink specials for listeners 21 and older. Presented by PurATech and co-hosted by Shaw's Jewelry.
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Missed a GardenLine tip?
Pam McKay, general sales manager
The how's,when's,why's of watering...
I'm getting hammered both on the air and via email with this basic question (now that the rains have stopped) -- "Randy, how much and how often should I water my grass?" Sounds like a pretty basic question, unfortunately the answer isn't so simple.
Irrigation/watering needs are dependant on many factors. The kind of grass, your soil profile, mowing tall vs. short, and the kind of irrigation system/sprinkler system you have and of course what Mother Nature doles out.
Which is why I thought this was a good time to remind you of the basic irrigation schedule I talk about on the GardenLine radio program. So far this year, it's been a roller coaster ride of moisture and temperatures. But the basics of those temperatures coupled with Mother Nature's rains are the way you should judge how much to use the sprinkler systems. Here are the rules based on temperatures if Mother Nature is not providing us ample rains.
Normally, our turf and landscapes do fine with 1 to 11/2 inches per week (7 days), when the daytime temperatures are in the 70s and 80s.
As daytime highs creep closer to 88 through 92 you can probably up that schedule to 1 to 1 1/2 inches every four to five days.
When our high temperatures exceed 93(and above) consistently, you may be looking at the possibility of irrigating every two to three days. (That's normally July through August.)
Earlier, I had noted that many factors play a role in how much irrigation is needed. The kind of grass is very important. St. Augustine needs the most, Bermuda the next most and Zoysia far less than the previous two.
The soil you have is ultimately the most critical factor if you ask me. People with poor soils that are not very enriched with organic matter, definitely have to use more water because their clay or sandy soil dries out quicker.
Remember to water early in the morning. If you have an automatic sprinkler, you can schedule it to run any time between 3 am to 8 am. If you don't have an automatic sprinkler, do your best to set the sprinkler when you get up in the morning. Here's why. Water pressure is at its best early in the mornings. There is less wind too, which is important because of evaporation. Finally, this allows the turf and landscape to use the water throughout the warming day. If you water at night, you run the risk of fungal diseases, such as Brownpatch.
You may be asking, how do I know how much time it takes my sprinkler to measure out an inch of water? Whether it's automatic or otherwise, the test is always the same. Get an empty can, such as a tuna or cat food can and put it out at the farthest reach of the spray pattern of your sprinkler. When it fills up, that's how long it takes to give you that inch. This can be as little as 15 minutes on some automatic systems, to as much as 45 minutes for the hose draggers.
If it seems like some people don't run their sprinklers near as much as you on a hot summer week, it could be because they have more organic matter in their soil. Poor soil, obviously dries out quicker and is in need of a drink of water much more often than a rich, organic-based soil. But that rich, organic soil doesn't happen overnight. Homeowners who add enriched topsoil from year to year or add soil activators from year to year achieve this kind of soil under the turf more consistently.
Finally, if you aren't mowing TALL - as tall as your lawnmower will allow in its settings - make the change today. Tall grass, in good soil, develops deeper roots and deeper roots draw moisture from a larger volume of soil and therefore require less supplemental irrigation. Plus, lawns mowed tall provide shading to the soil surface and reduce the hotter temperatures from desiccating the soil. And if you mow short and end up "scalping" the lawn in this kind of heat, you end up scalding the grass, desiccating the soil and developing a shallow root system.
There is a caveat to this: NEW LAWNS. Newly sodded lawns need to be watered on a daily basis during the heat of the summer. You're trying to keep the "mud" wet just underneath the root zone, so that it will break down and the roots will establish into the soil below. You're not trying to drown the new sod, but just keep it moist enough on a daily basis to soften the soil and help out the roots.
Until next issue, here's to
Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard
exclusively weekend mornings from 8 to noon
on Talkradio 950 KPRC.
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