Turf Irrigation

By Hartin, Janet S. | Landscape & Irrigation, December 2007 | Go to article overview

Turf Irrigation


Hartin, Janet S., Landscape & Irrigation


Excerpted from "Become a Landscape Company Owner" by Janet S. Hartin (fabjob.com)

Newly planted grass that is just starting to root needs to be watered regularly during the first season. As the roots grow downward, you should water deeper but less often. This reduces disease and weed problems and strengthens the plant. Once turf is established, water six to eight inches deep and let the soil dry out some before you water again. A good rule of thumb is to hold off on watering until the top two inches of soil have dried out. When grass gets too dry, it's easy to tell--your shoeprint will stay there for several minutes and you'll start to notice wilt. Healthy grass with enough water won't hold a print.

Cool-season grasses such as tall fescue, annual and perennial ryegrass, bluegrass and bentgrass require about 20 percent more water than warm-season grasses such as Bermuda, zoysia and St. Augustine. Both warm- and cool-season grasses, like other landscape plants, tend to be over-watered rather than under-watered. Sometimes grasses even get too much water during the summer under high temperatures. This happens when whoever is in charge of watering (often a homeowner) notices brown spots and tries to correct things by cranking up the number of minutes on the controller. This is probably the biggest source of water waste in the landscape. Problems start when the sprinkler system isn't applying water evenly throughout the planting. Increasing the effectiveness of an irrigation system can reduce water waste 20 to 50 percent or more and improve health and performance of a lawn. Uneven watering causes some plants to get too much water while others don't get enough. Brown spots start to show up in the lawn and rather than fix broken heads or other hardware problems, the homeowner just applies more water.

Even a properly designed system needs regular upkeep to water effectively. A common problem of lawn sprinklers is uneven water application (poor distribution uniformity) resulting in brown spots. Water is wasted when the entire lawn is watered to compensate for a few dry areas caused from poor coverage. A better approach is to troubleshoot the cause of the poor uniformity. A few simple repairs and adjustments can save water, money and frustration. …

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