Watering your Lawn

One of the first articles we wrote in our newsletter was a reminder that your grass gets hungry. There are a lot of folks who forget that. There are a lot of people who forget that their grass also gets thirsty.

Someone once said, “If you don’t like the weather in Atlanta wait 15 minutes it will change. In recent years Atlanta, as well as most of the Southeast, has experienced drought conditions. The last couple of years Atlanta has seen sufficient rainfall, but we have still gone for extended periods with no water. We are in one of those extended periods as I write. Our wet early spring has turned into a rainfall deficit just short of an inch. So, you need to look outside, is your grass thirsty? If you let your grass go too long without a good drink, it will dehydrate.

Watering your grass seems like a simple job but it does need to be done properly. And most importantly it needs to be done in a way that incorporates Georgia’s outdoor water use rules. Beginning June 1, 2011 your automated irrigation system and lawn sprinklers (including hand watering) may be operated on a daily basis between 4 PM and 10 AM. Fortunately, this fits well with the way your grass should be watered.

While we still have a choice of the times to water, the best time is early in the morning just around sun up. And, it is important for you to give your grass good soaking. Most all grasses used in the Atlanta area will grow well on about an inch of water per week. This may require you to water two or three times a week. Water must get down two to three inches into the roots. A shallow watering every day will hurt your grass more than help. The water will evaporate during the heat of the day and will one day leave you with a dead brown lawn. And, never water your lawn at night. That only waters insects and fungus. Before long you will be buying insecticides and fungicides. Again, a good soaking but only water in the morning!

Be careful not to water your grass too much. Excess water will deprive the roots of oxygen. The roots die, the grass doesn’t get any water, the grass dies! Many times this problem is diagnosed as drought stress and more water is added. The simple cure is to take time to probe the soil. If the soil is wet, stop watering!

And while we’re talking about watering, since Georgia is prone to water restrictions, it’s important to make sure that we do what we can to conserve this precious natural resource. There are two things you can do to help.

  1. Make sure your irrigation system is working properly. Take care to calibrate it so that you use only the amount of water necessary to maintain a healthy lawn.
  2. Aerate your lawn at least once a year using a core aerator. Proper aeration allows the water to penetrate to the roots and helps to prevent runoff.

When you look good, we look good! If you need help please give us a call.

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A Monthly Guide To Care Of *Cool Season Lawns

(Bluegrass, Fescue, Ryegrass)

March: Give the lawn a healthy start by fertilizing with a lawn fertilizer specially formulated for fescue or bluegrass. This helps them to start the season strong enough to compete with weeds. If crabgrass, goose grass, and other grassy weeds are a problem on fescue, bluegrass, or ryegrass, you can fertilize and control weeds in one step by applying a product that combines the pre-emergence weed killers Balan and Treflan, which kill the grassy weeds as they germinate. Their seeds sprout as the soil first warms in spring – about the time daffodils are in full bloom. Don’t wait until later in spring to apply; by then it’s too late. Pre-emergence weed killers don’t work on seeds that have already sprouted.

April: Be on the lookout for insects and diseases from now through fall. If brown or ragged areas appear in the lawn, take snapshots and samples of affected grass that is still alive to a nurseryman or your county Extension agent for diagnosis.

May: Fertilize again early this month. For fescue lawns plagued with broadleaf weeds such as chickweed, clover, dandelions, and plantains, you can use one of the weed and feed fertilizers with the weed killer Trimec. If only a few weeds plague the lawn, pull them by hand, or spot treat with a liquid weed killer sprayed directly on the weed. Read label carefully to be sure the product you’ve chosen suits your grass type.

July and August: These hot months are the hardest on cool-season lawns; help them by watering every week when it doesn’t rain at least an inch. Even though the grass is off color, regular deep watering helps keep the roots healthy so the grass can come back strong through the fall. In August, apply a crabgrass preventer to kill annual bluegrass and other grassy winter weeds if they were a problem the previous year. Their seedlings, which begin to grow in August, hide deep in the grass. A pre-emergent herbicide kills the seedlings as they sprout; it doesn’t work on those that are already growing, so don’t wait until you see those plants to apply. By then, it’s too late.

September: Fertilize again about a month before the first frost. Cool-season grasses spring back to life after their summer rest and need food to fuel their growth. Use a balanced fertilizer or a formula specially formulated for fescue or bluegrass.

November or December: Between Halloween and Christmas, fertilize for the last time until early spring. This helps the lawn resist cold and stay healthy and thick enough to compete with the winter weeds. Use a product especially designed to condition the lawn for winter.

* Cool-season grasses prefer mild weather and are at their best in spring and fall. Yet, even during their dormant period, which is in summer or during extreme cold in winter, they never turn completely brown unless the weather is dry.
** Mowing: Set your mower blade at a height from the surface to allow for clipping a quarter of the total plant at each mowing.? Fescues perform better maintained at 2 1/2 to 3 inches; bluegrass does best at 2 inches.

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