With summer just around the corner a considered approach to efficient lawn watering will reap the reward of a green lawn through summer. Just as some will over imbibe during the holiday break with a hangover as the result, our lawns can become victim to over refreshment through excessive irrigation. The best way to build a good deep root system is through correct watering practice.
Watering in early mornings is best. Night watering can enhance disease incidence however if this is the only time available for you then it is better than having the lawn die of thirst.
Watering should only take place in hot weather or at the first signs of wilt. The leaf of a Buffalo lawn will fold down its length when beginning to dehydrate and watering should commence as soon as this sign is seen. Couch, which is extremely drought tolerant, will start to go a blue to grey colour when under heat stress and Kikuyu will wilt. Irrigate immediately when any of these signs are noticed.
A long deep irrigation applied infrequently is far better than regular shallow watering. You should aim to get moisture down into the soil profile to a depth of at least 50mm or more. The aim is to get the roots down where they are able to take up any moisture. Shallow, frequent short watering creates tiny root systems that are unable to cope with hot days when moisture in the top of the soil profile dries out rapidly.
Often soils become hydrophobic during periods of low rainfall and water will not travel deep into the profile. If you suspect your soil has this condition then an application of wetting agent such as Lawn Soaker or Wetta Soil will rectify the problem. A good way to tell if your lawn or soil is hydrophobic is to apply a cup of water to an area and see if it soaks in rapidly or just runs off and beads. If it does then apply a wetting agent.
Aeration will also aid in getting moisture in deep so punch holes in compacted areas with a garden fork.
By now lawns should have had any build up of thatch removed (see our Spring Lawn care tips) to help with irrigation infiltration. Lawns that are thatchy hold water above the soil and it is not available to the roots when needed. If you have not de-thatched your Buffalo, Couch or Kikuyu lawn then do it now.
Hand watering is OK on small areas or hot spots but to adequately irrigate larger lawns a sprinkler is a must have item. Water each area for at least five to ten minutes and if water starts to run off, cease irrigation and water again an hour later for five minutes. This practice gets water down deep and you will dramatically reduce the number of days that you need to apply water through the use of this technique.
Avoid the use of selective herbicides during hot weather, as they will have an effect on the lawn not just the target weed. Also refrain from applying fertiliser on hot days unless it can be watered in thoroughly.
The highest use period for lawns is summer with parties, backyard sports and general activities being held more often. With a little care and attention they will thrive and provide the green oasis that they were intended to be.
The short of it…
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