To Irrigate or Not to Irrigate – That is the Question - Scientific Plant Service Skip Navigation

To Irrigate or Not to Irrigate – That is the Question

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Should you irrigate your lawn? There are a few times when it can help, but it must be used wisely.

Is it best to irrigate, or not to irrigate your lawn? The best time to water the lawn is during the early morning hours on an as-needed basis rather than on a fixed schedule. Water is most effectively applied when turf develops a blue-gray or purplish color and/or when turf lays down, leaving a footprint after being walked upon. When watering, it is crucial to water slowly and to wet the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. This can be a laborious process, but it will yield long-term benefits in water conservation. Light and frequent water applications are detrimental, causing restricted rooting and increases in disease and weed problems, resulting in poor turf quality and weak turfgrasses. 

Lawn irrigation is not encouraged, but there are certain times when it is necessary, or when it can be used wisely. The following tips will help you determine whether you should irrigate, and how much water should be applied. 

  • You can use your system to water on an as-needed basis, as opposed to a regular schedule.
  • You should irrigate newly seeded, sodded, or lawns under two years old. Water if you see the grass blades start to wilt, turn a blue-gray color, or show footprints after being walked on. 
  • Established tall-fescue lawns can go dormant during summer as a survival mechanism. Lawns typically recover quickly when rainfall returns, except in prolonged drought situations. If some grass dies off, reseeding may be necessary in the late summer/fall. 
  • Dormant lawns will continue to protect water sources by holding soil in place and filtering out potential pollutants. Do not fertilize dormant lawns, mow less frequently, and adjust the mowing height to about 4 inches. 
  • When you water, do so in the early morning, before 10 a.m., to minimize leaf wetness. Watering early gives your grass time to absorb the water. Wet grass that stays wet for a prolonged time promotes disease.
  • Water slowly to prevent nutrient runoff. You may use a sprinkler to apply 1 inch of water to your lawn. You can place a shallow can in the watered area to monitor the applied amount. Check the soil moisture after an inch of water collects in the can. Then, insert a screwdriver or other probe in the watered area. Your soil should be moist 4 to 6 inches down into the ground.
  • Frequent and shallow watering, sometimes applied with an irrigation system, tends to keep the upper soil layers near a saturation point most of the time. This encourages shallow rooting, disease, weeds like green kyllinga and yellow nutsedge, and insect problems (grubs). Automatic irrigation systems should always be adjusted to the needs of your grass plants and turned off during wet periods during the growing season. 

Scientific Plant Service Is Your Go-To Source In Landscape Healthcare

Scientific Plant Service, located in Baltimore, is a privately owned corporation, chartered in Maryland in 1957 by Frank J. Burke. We started as a full-service Arborists specializing in the care of shade trees and ornamental shrubs, but today we are a Lawn Care company that is a huge part of the community. From aquatic environments and snow management to deer and mole control, SPS has services tailored specifically for your lawn and landscape.

We offer services in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia, including: Harford, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Howard, Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Prince Georges, Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Calvert counties in MD, as well as Loudoun County, Fairfax County, Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church in VA. For more information, contact us online, or call us at 410-321-0970. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest.

This entry was posted on Friday, July 21st, 2023 at . Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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