Spring Watering Guide & Grass Update

LawnFreezeDamage-Dallas2The past few weeks I’ve spent most of my time visiting lawn after lawn and talking with customers about what’s wrong with their grass. In North Texas, we had one of the coldest winters on record, and it did a LOT of damage to St. Augustine. What a lot of people don’t realize is that St. Augustine is a tropical plant, and is usually very aggressive.  My normal recommendation is for our customs to be patient, and the grass will fill back into freeze damaged areas soon.

This year is different.  We had a HARD winter (record setting hard.)  So hard in fact, that I’ve seen a few lawns nearly wiped out from freeze damage.  Thankfully this isn’t the norm.  Most of the lawns I’m visiting will fill back in once we have some warm weather and rain, which you’d figure we’d have by May 20th!  Amazingly a lot of lawns are still partly dormant at this time of year which is highly unusual.  Lawns come out of dormancy when the soil temperature reaches 65 degrees to a depth of 4 inches.  To get there we need night-time temperatures that are consistently above 60 degrees, which hasn’t been happening in North Texas.  Just last week we were getting down to the low 50s at night.  Yes we’ve had 90 degree days but not enough of them in a row to cause the grass to grow strongly and all lawns to come out of dormancy. I’ve even seen some neighborhoods where one side of the street was about ¾ dormant and the other side was about ¾ out of dormancy.  My best guess is the other side got a little more sunlight and did better. Strange days indeed (to quote John Lennon). My bet is we’ll actually see some warm weather soon (it is Dallas after all.)  In fact, this past week or so I’ve noticed that a lot more lawns are finally coming out of dormancy and growing like they normally would have in April.  This means that a lot of that winter damage we’ve been seeing should start going away over the next few weeks.

While you’re waiting on Mother Nature to warm up, you can make sure you are watering your lawn properly for the spring (download our FREE watering guide.)

In the spring your lawn requires around a half an inch of water per week on average. That equals roughly 30 minutes for most sprinkler systems. The problem we have in our area is our infamous clay soil can only absorb about 10 minutes worth of water. After that it will run off which is not good for your water bill or our local water supply.

Our advice? Don’t water all 30 minutes at once. Instead program your sprinkler’s controller to water one day per week with a start time of 2am, 4am, and 6am, having each zone run for 10 minutes.

If you have rotors (the type of sprinkler that turns slowly while spraying a long thin stream) you need to water twice as long (at least 20 minutes per zone at 2am, 4am, and 6am.) Depending on the rotor speed and stream, you may need to water even longer to give your lawn what it needs.

Do you need help optimizing your sprinkler? The Village Green sprinkler gurus can tune up your system and have you ready for summer in no time. If you have questions give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com. I’m always happy to chat about ways to improve your lawn and landscape.

 

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Winter Watering Guide

Irrigation - ServiceIf you want to protect your landscape from freeze damage, don’t turn off your sprinkler system in the winter.  Granted you don’t need to water as much as you would in the summer, but watering a small amount during winter will make sure your lawn and landscape are ready for the spring growing season and protected against freeze damage.

In the winter your soil will lose on average, 1/4″ of water per week.  To help illustrate, imagine filling a gallon bucket with water and setting it out in your yard.  When you check your bucket a week later, you’re going to find it still has water, but you’ve lost about 1/4″ from evaporation.  That’s what happens to your lawn and landscape during the winter and if you skip watering for weeks (or months) you’re going to make the roots of your plants more susceptible to freeze damage.  Another reason to water regularly is that any pre-emergent treatments that are applied to your lawn need water to spread and push them into the soil.  This process is what creates the barrier in the soil to prevent the weed seeds from sprouting in late winter and early spring.  A pre-emergent can survive a couple of weeks without water, but after that it will disappear and not be effective.

Most plants in our area like water all winter long.  Take St. Augustine as an example.  It is a tropical plant so it hates the cold.  In fact, watering your St. Augustine lawn in the winter may be more important than your summer watering since the biggest killer of it is freezing.  Unless you have chosen a very sensitive plant, I rarely see any winter damage of any plants if they have been watered correctly over the winter months.  

Be sure and visit the Village Green Resource Center for helpful links to your city watering guidelines as well as our downloadable Village Green Watering Guide.  If you need more help please don’t hesitate to contact us at 972-495-6990, email me at ken@villagegreen-inc.com or fill out our contact form.  We’d be happy to help walk you through the process to make sure you are getting the most out of your winter watering schedule.  For those who want more advanced help, we offer affordable sprinkler system inspections, tune-ups, and sprinkler control replacement that will guarantee appropriate and adequate water coverage for your lawn.  If you contact us by February 15, 2014, you can get our early bird sprinkler tune-up special for only $59 (a savings of $45!.)

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