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Watering in Texas
Understanding the water needs of our lawns will ensure greater success with maintaining a healthy lawn. A typical Texas lawn only requires 1" of water every 5 to 7 days depending on soil conditions. A lawn that is properly watered can compete aggressively with weeds and avoid stress that contributes to lawn diseases.
Creating a deep root system is probably the single-most important goal during hot weather. Lawns should be watered to a depth of 6 inches during each irrigation cycle.
Calculating the length of time to run the irrigation system:
- Collect several empty tuna fish or cat food cans and set them randomly around the yard
- Run the irrigation system for the full length of time it normally runs
- After the irrigation system has completed all cycles check the amounts of water collected and calculate the average
- Dig down in the soil to see what depth the water reached
- Calculate any adjustment that might be needed in watering time
Example - lets say you collected an average of 1/2" of water in the cans in a 15-minute time period, and the water penetrated the soil to a depth of 3". You can now calculate that it would take approximately 30 minutes, or 1" of water to penetrate to a depth of 6".
Sloped yards may need this amount applied in two time periods, an hour or so apart, in order to slow down run-off on the slope. Soil depth and type plays a huge role in water percolation rate.
Determining the frequency of watering is the next step in maintaining a healthy lawn. It is important to water throughly, as described above, and not water again until the lawn is approaching the stress point. This stress point is seen in St. Augustine grass as the leaves "folding", and in Bremuda and Zoysia grasses as when a footprint does not "bounce" back. This is the point at which irrrigation should be timed. Spending a week or two observing you lawn and setting your irrigation system accordingly will ensure a more drought-tolerant lawn. Your lawn will bee better able to withstand the stress of water rationing, and your water bills will reflect this "water-wise" approach to irrigation. During a "drought year", water periodically during the winter; grass roots are still alive and require moisture.
Remeber to raise the mower height in the heat of the summer. The leaves will shade the soil and conserve moisture. Try not to remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade each time you mow. Water during the twillight hours (midnight to 6a) to ensure water is not being evaporated before falling to the ground.