Establishing a good watering and mowing schedule can be difficult when you are busy, but this year it is especially important. Helping lawns and landscapes fully “bounce back” from last year’s stress will take time, effort and a teamwork approach with your lawn care company. Use the following guidelines for a good start on a great season.
As a general guideline, lawns only need 1″ to 1.5″ of water per week. It’s best to water 1 to 2 times per week early in the morning to achieve this goal. Watering for a longer period of time less frequently and soaking the soil to a 6″ to 8″ depth will promote a deeper root system and improve drought tolerance. Short, frequent watering will cause shallow rooting. Shallow rooting will lead to poor drought tolerance and increase disease susceptibility. Watering your lawn and landscape plants early in the morning, before the sun rises, will allow time for the water to soak into the soil before evaporation can occur.
HOW LONG TO WATER
Every irrigation system is different. Several factors determine the amount of time needed to supply the proper amount of water, such as type of irrigation head, size of the nozzle, water pressure, and coverage area. As a general rule, rotor zones need to run between 30 minutes to 1 hour per zone to get 1/2″ of water. Spray zones should run 5 to 10 minutes per zone to get 1/2″ of water. You will need to measure the amount of water your irrigation system is putting out in each zone to see how long your system needs to run. A rain gauge can be placed on the lawn to measure water output.
- Water enough to give plants 1″ of water per week.
- Measure how long it takes your sprinkler to put out 1″ of water.
- Water deeply but as infrequently as possible.
- Give extra attention to “hot spots” along any kind of pavement.
- Don’t get in the habit of quick sprinkling. This keeps roots at the surface and leads to drought stress.
The first rule of proper lawn mowing is to always keep your mower blade sharp. Mowing with a dull blade will cause several avoidable problems, such as excessive water usage, increased disease activity, and poor appearance. The second rule is to never cut off more than one-third of the grass blade when mowing. Removing too much of the blade at one time causes stress and creates an environment ripe for disease. Bagging your clippings is not recommended in most cases (except for the first mowing of the season on Bermuda and Zoysia lawns, when you will need to bag your clippings). Lawn clippings will quickly decompose and add nutrients back into the soil.
Bermuda – .5″ to 2″ (1.5″ is ideal)
Zoysia – .75″ to 2″ (1.5″ is ideal)
Fescue – 2.5″ to 4″ (3″ is ideal)
Centipede – 1″ to 2″ (1.5″ is ideal)
- Start with a sharp blade and keep it sharp all year.
- Adjust your mowing schedule (from 5 to 10 days), depending on the growth of the lawn.
- Mow a little higher to prevent weeds.
- Don’t “scalp” the lawn or remove more than one-third of the blade in a single mowing.