We’ve had consistently warm weather for the last few weeks and the heat is taking its toll on lawns. Here are some watering tips to keep your yard looking good all year. It’s very important to check your irrigation system for any shortfalls before dry, damaged areas begin to show. A strong root system helps prevent pests in your lawn as well.
Watering Tip #1 What time of the day should I water?
It is best to water during the cool, early morning hours. Evaporation loss can be 60% higher during the day. In addition, by watering when the grass is already wet from the dew, you won’t alter the natural state of the grass. If you must water in the late afternoon, stop watering with enough time before dark to allow the grass to dry. Watering at night is not recommended because water left on the blades of the grass encourages fungus and disease.
How long should I water?
For most Florida soils, an average of ½ to ¾ of an inch of water per application is enough to replenish the grass. It is best to saturate the root zone and then let the soil dry to encourage healthy, deep root growth. During hot, dry months, a full inch is recommended but you must follow local water regulations.
To determine how long to run your sprinklers, place several empty, straight-sided cans or cups at different distances within one zone. (Uniform coffee mugs work well.) Run the sprinklers for 15 minutes and measure the amount of water collected in each can. Calculate an average water depth and determine how long it will take to apply a ½ to ¾ inch of water.
¼” average depth of water after 15 minutes – water 35-50 minutes in that zone.
½” average depth of water after 15 minutes – water 20-30 minutes in that zone.
Watering Tips #2 How should I water my Floratam, St. Augustine grass during the different seasons?
a. March through early June
These watering tips will keep your lawn healthy year round. March until the rainy season begins, usually mid-June, is usually the driest time of the year in southwest Florida. Often we receive just trace amounts of rain in May. This is the most important time of year to be diligent with watering your lawn. If the watering restrictions in your area allow for twice per week watering, and you apply the recommended amount of water each cycle, then your lawn will do just fine.
However, if you are only permitted to water once per week, then you should expect damage in some parts of your lawn. A seven day watering interval is too long for Floratam, St. Augustine grass when long, hot and sunny days are the rule. When the rains return, your Floratam will recover unless you failed to sprinkle heavily on your permitted watering day.
b. June through September
Twice per week watering is needed throughout this entire summer period. If the rains stop for a week, you must irrigate to avoid damage. However, because it often rains several times per week, you may not need to sprinkle at all.
c. October through February
During this period your Floratam will need less frequent water inputs. Especially as the days get shorter and the daytime temperatures moderate in the 80’s and even the 70’s. If the daytime temperate range in the 60’s to low 70’s, you can do without any additional sprinkling.
The “All-Seeing Cup Test”
During warm weather, if you are seeing particular areas browning while other areas of your lawn are healthy, this is most likely dry patch. If you have an irrigation system, the first step is the “cup test”.
How To Do a Cup Test: Place empty, straight-sided cans or cups in your lawn. Place one in the middle of the brown patch and a few in the green areas. Then run your sprinklers for 10-15 minutes and compare the water levels. The brown area might be getting some water but just not enough to keep it healthy!
If you’re concerned the brown area is not due to a lack of water, be sure to call our office and we will have a manager or technician stop by as soon as possible!
Watering Tips for Shrubs and Flowers
Flowers: Flowers need frequent watering. They need a “quick drink” daily. This is easily accomplished by hand watering just the areas with flowers.
Established Shrubs: Shrubs that have been planted for more than 3 months, in general, need a short watering cycle once or twice per week. More specifically, plants with South or West exposure need watered once or twice per week while plants with North or East exposure may not need watered at all.
New Shrubs: New shrubs should be watered daily for the first 2-3 months. This is basically to “wean” them off the daily watering received at the nursery or garden center.
Adjusting Sprinkler Heads
There are a few links below with video demonstrations on how to adjust, fix or replace your sprinkler heads, filters and nozzles. Or you can contact our irrigation department and we’ll take care of it for you!