View Full Version : Watering

12-28-2001, 01:13 PM
This may have been discussed before, but I figured with so many new members, we could bring this up again.

How many of your accounts actually water their lawn?
Either by a professionally installed irrigation system, or even by using garden hoses hooked up with sprinklers placed around the lawn. (I'm sure the answers will differ depending upon your location.) I'm especially curious to hear from NorthEast members, although everyone is free to reply.

We find it is very hard around here to get people to water their lawns. We inform our customers that heavy watering at infrequent intervals is best than to water every day.
What do you suggest to your customers?

Will you even take on a new client that admittedly never waters?
At this point we still do, but we are seriously now trying to target clients that understand the importance of watering.

Let me see if I can explain what I am trying to say. I would like to find or make a chart or graph that a customer could reference so they could see how much their water bill would increase a month by watering. Say like how much output of water, including the amount of time watering each month, and then showing the increase in cost for that much water used.
I don't even know if this possible because if the customer was just watering with sprinklers how would I know how much water was being used?
Someone help me out here, I'm beginning to babble ;)

Just thought I'd bring this up to get some conversation going. :)

Premo Services
12-28-2001, 02:13 PM
1MajorTom :( :(

I have to say I agree with you on the fact about trying to get them to water lawns. I had a real hard time trying to get them to water after i aerated and overseeded their lawns!!! Some of them spent a lot to have me do it.:D But still didn`t even water the new seed so it would grow. I have one older customer and did some extensive seeding on his lawn, it was soo dry in sept,oct that when I would cut I would water his areas that I did.He is the only one though, because he had hip and back problems and the wife is not too well either. The chart or graph idea is a good one, but I think most of them are just too darn lazy to water it.They should put in a sprinkler system. I even put a pamphlet that I got from lesco about aeration, seeding and WATERING with the bid for the work. When I did the jobs I talked to them, and gave more instructions about watering, still no luck. It suprises me that some of them even said boy the watering must be really important and even then did not water.
It was so dry none of the seed was growing, and for a time I started to feel a little guility, but then thought that I am not a magician, You can`t take dry seed, and dry dirt and have a lush stand of grass.

12-28-2001, 03:11 PM

In my area irrigation is a must. Therefore I address this issue on my web site. However I wrote this during the drough and we are still under water restriction. So change 3/4" to 1" I have not changed this since I wrote it because of water restriction. Click www under my name then water on the right hand side of the home page. Those of you that have not seen my fertilizer page might want to check it out also. I need to finish my website but lawnsite is more fun. Hope this helps. No I can't spell with spell check either. so over look my grammar. Anyone who like to correct or disagree with my website please feel free to do so. Just e-mail me.

mdb landscaping
12-28-2001, 03:49 PM
i would say 80-90 percent of my lawns are irrigated. it seems to be the trend around here. i remember when i was young, we were one of the first people in the neighborhood to put in irrigation, and all the neighbors thought we were nuts. now every single person on our street has a system.

12-28-2001, 08:03 PM

As you said ... our climate is much differant. Some irrigate, some water by sprinkler. Most of our commercial property's do not.

With the past spring being so dry, we made out like bandits on alot of property's because they are all on contract and very little time was needed.
I would rather have them irrigated because of the obvious ... It looks much better. That it turn makes us look better. I have convinced 2 large commercial property's to install irragation next spring.
I know I have not answered your questions ... Im not sure on cost...watering can be expensive.
Yes I would take on a customer that does not irrigate. Since we are so new to the maintenance we cannot pick and choose as much as I would like. I am planning on dropping a couple of garbage accounts this coming year if they don't agree to some major work and big price increase.

12-28-2001, 11:30 PM
I feel that this topic is one of our biggest problems. Some will water the fool out of it and others don't at all. It is a big challenge getting customers to water properly.

I hate when I get to a site and the ground is soaking wet. Wonder why ruts are present or weeds. Hello improper cultural practices. I tell them water infreq at 1" per week then I explain shall watering is not good for the turf, and run off, watering in the middle of the day, and still they look at me with the catfish eyes.

those that dont have irrigation systems I just love putting the fert on it as I tell them ya really need to water it in. I mention in my agreement I'm not responsible for nitro burn.
my hort teacher told use that watering is one of the biggest hassle dealing with customers. Ya always seem to get some that know everything about the green industry. Maybe it is an age thing or something. I did a fert estimate last week and the lady was still watering the grass, hello 30 degress at night and the turf sleeping. She asked if she still needs to be watering.

12-29-2001, 12:51 AM
If I have my big'ol jug of tea with me I usually water the yard for the customer:angel:

12-29-2001, 02:06 AM

I got to agree with you and your hort teacher 100% customer do not water correctly. At least I can keep dollar weeds green if I can't spray them twice a week. I am just enough tree hugger not to keep spraying herbicide on a yard that a customer will not listen to me. Also careful not to leach fert into ground water. I use QB for invoiceing and each month I write something about watering in my invoice news letter. However I think they don't read it. One of my great customer(one you know there phone # by heart) Complained her yard was brown and how expensive water was. I told her wash your BMW and MB less. I get real burned on telling the same people the same thing over and over.

12-29-2001, 07:50 AM
I operate in Baltimore County Maryland . My customers enjoy some of the cheapest water costs in the country and still the majority of them don't water. My older customers will water the flowers but not the lawn. The younger ones just don't have time. I have considered offering a watering service but never got it off the ground.

12-29-2001, 08:22 AM
Some of the wealthier folks down here were actually digging wells to water their lawns with................cheaper in the long run than paying for city water.

I've quit taking on yards that are in poor shape. I won't say that I wouldn't take on one that does not have irrigation though. Some lawns just naturally do better than others. If it's primarily thin grass with dirt patches then I wouldn't touch it anymore. I have a few left that I've had since the beginning but hate to cut them. I think if someone is used to letting nature take care of it self then you will have a real hard time convincing them to spend money on irrigation. If they buy a home that already has it they won't use it...................it's the attitude of the homeowner.

David Haggerty
12-29-2001, 09:22 AM
This is a courtyard at a factory I mow. It gets extra hot in there, and the walls shed some of the normal rainfall. So it needs added watering.

What they do actually does more harm than good. They water every day, right after lunch. I've begged them to quit, or water once a week after sundown.
But he quotes me something he read in a magazine on golf course management about "nighttime watering has a higher incidence of slime mold". I was going to reply with something about "a little education is a dangerous thing" but I bit my tongue instead.

I can't fault him for not being knowlegable on watering, the nearest irrigation company is in Cincinnati, 50 miles away. We have a watering problem locally, but it's not the lack of it. In the spring the grass never really dries out between rains, and the ground gets like jello in places. No one waters here.

Anyway the grass now in the courtyard now is almost completely surface growth with almost no root system. It's going to die next summer, and I've told them so. Then I'll sod it.

They did have me core aerate everything last fall. They have a little water problem on the outside of the building too. It's just a lot of islands of grass surrounded by acres of pavement. A lot of the rainfall just runs off. I'd have liked to have dragged some sand into the aeration holes to "soften" the surface and let the rain soak in better. But I didn't have my trailer ready to haul sand. My son-in-law says it has to be really tight or I won't get back with it. LOL


12-29-2001, 09:25 AM
I have one lawn that has a sprinkler system. It is only about 1700 square feet but it looks nice. I have a few thaqt water with just the garden hose. Last year we were pretty fortunate It rained just at the right times.

12-29-2001, 10:51 AM
90% of the grounds I work on are under irrigation and 90% of my customers use their irrigation improperly, but water, on lawns, house plants or trees is one of the most difficult issues to understand. If you tell a customer not to water their lawn until the turf reaches permant drought point the phrase scares them. If you tell them that an automatic irrigation system isnt automatic it must be adjusted by season, rainfall and UV's, they will tell you their irrigation man told them to water lightly every day when they started the system this year and he is an irrigation man. If you tell them that their birch tree and their lawn have different water requirements and that they compete with the lawn for nutrients so the heads and zones need adjusted they will tell you the irrigation man adjusted the heads during start up. Water is a very complex isssue and most people with irrigation systems are trying to make their lives less complex. I guess all you can do is explain, explain and explain again.

12-29-2001, 11:33 AM
Get the silly notion out of your heads that everything has different water requirements. If that were true a bunch of stuff would be dead on every site because mother nature waers it the same all over and in varying amounts when she does.

What plants have is varying abilities to access soil moisture. Some are fibrous and shallow rooted, some have deep heavy roots. Some roots are 12" deep and some are 24" deep. It's all about access. Everything is competing for water in the top 6" but not everything has roots to pull water from 30" down.

Rutgers University says to water between midnight and 8 am for highest watering efficiency and minimum disease problems.

Watering everyday IS NOT BAD! Allowing turf to stress before watering is bad. Stressed turf develops problems that are expensive to overcome and detrimental to appearance and well being.

This year I switched several unregulated or water unrestricted jobs over from everyother day to everyday (night) watering. I took the weekly watering requirement for June & July, our highest demand months and made 7 applications per week. In our climate we need about 1.4" of water per week during those 2 months. Knowing or calulating the precipitation rate of the irrigation system it is easy to figure how many minutes per week the sprinklers must run to deliver 1.4" of water. Divide the total minutes by 7 days to get minutes per day.

Yes, water costs can be calulated once the monthly or seasonal water needs and the cost of the water are known.

12-29-2001, 01:09 PM

Can not agree with you on watering every day. I am to burned out on the subject to state my point. However daily watering cause shallow roots growth and deep root growth causes a heathlier turf. Good Luck

12-29-2001, 01:36 PM
Wrong about the daily watering and shallow root growth. If you water by seasonal demand and DO NOT let the turf dry out and stress before beginning the water program, the shallow root thing is a myth. Give the turf proper nutrition and maintain fertility levels appropriate for the soil and level of maintenance desired. This is what promotes deep, healthy roots.

By following my method, you are merely replacing moisture used everyday and never trying to make up a short situation. If everything is stressed or toasty before beginning to water the viable roots will only be shallow ones, as that is where the moisture lays.

On the lawns where we instituted daily watering this year, we had zero disease on insect problems to treat. This has been the driest year in NJ that I've ever seen in my area.

When the daily watered lawns had the irrigation turned off this fall, they were still able to survive and look good for weeks even thought we had no rainfall and it was warmer than usual. So that means they still had a good root system plenty deep to draw the little available moisture we had.

12-29-2001, 02:49 PM

I respect your post you are in fact one of a hand ful of people I feel has offered something of value to read. However respect my right to disagree with you on this one. You are in zone 5?? and I am in zone 10 you have hard pan?? and I have sand. Season water requirements is an important point that I left out but I am aware of and as stated earler I send a news letter to my customer each month advising them to adjust there sprinkler. My website is designed to help all people weather they are my customer or competitior to keep a nice yard. I am not the greatest writter and maybe I don't make my point. I have tried to stay away from terms like infiltration, Porosity, field capacity, percolation, degree of saturation and hydraulic conductivity. They only bring a catfish eyes looks. Maybe I should go back to using these terms they might make people realize I know a little something. If you must irrigate on a daily bases to maintain your mass wetnees at field capacity then aerated offen to maintain Air filled porosity and to decrease Bulk density. Since we are still under water restriction I will have to fallow the law and irrigate once a week and yes in our sand we are approching drought stress each week before we water again. There for I use wetting agents to increase infiltration by negating surface tension.

12-29-2001, 03:18 PM
In southern NJ we have all types of soil from sand to clay and all variations in between but no rock. About as bad as it gets is gravel up to egg size in some areas. Mostly it's just soil of varying types and quality.

We too have a problem getting people to water correctly and most tend to either be over or under and seldom right. It's never enough in the summer and too much on either end of the season. Proper attention to demand and scheduling on a monthly basis would yield better results and most likely lower water bills.

The topic we are discussing just proves the point that there isn't anything about this industry that is as simply as what it appears to outsiders and many in the industry. There is much to know and learn and you can't be a true professional with out a truck load of all kinds of knowledge from the business aspects to the technical realm. It's not just about mow, blow and go, spread and squirt or overhead and pricing. Even the one man shows have to get it all right to truly succeed.

12-29-2001, 06:22 PM
We gladly sign non-watering customers to seasonal contracts. Generally these are busy professionals or the elderly who let us worry about the cut frequency. I use a flexible contract which allows for no less than 2 visits per month. Many times these visits entail no more than a quick cut at 3.5" to 4" with little or no trimming, or a quick perimiter & bed trimming only at full mowing price. Easy $$$ with minimal labour. A volume of these accounts is more profitable for us than many well watered & fertilised turf contracts.

12-31-2001, 12:27 AM
Thanks for all the replys.

Ric, I checked out your site. Lots of info there. :) thanks

12-31-2001, 12:53 AM
The mixture of my accts. older ladies on fixed income, and couple with poor grass nobody waters. I try to tell them the ways to water etc., but money is tight! Oh well it comes back green ---usually.My policy is in drought time Is I stay off.:rolleyes: