Underwatering?

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by snmhanson, Jul 25, 2005.

  1. snmhanson

    snmhanson LawnSite Member
    Posts: 59

    This seems pretty obvious to me but I'll ask it anyway. Most of our grass is yellowing a bit as the heat of the summer starts to take hold. The only places that it are not yellowing are about a 1' radius around the sprinkler heads, under trees that get hit by the water streams and in some areas that get alot of shade. Is this a sure sign that I am not watering enough? If so, how long does it take to see results when you increase the watering? I doubled my watering times about two weeks ago and I can't tell if it is making a difference or not yet. I think it is making a slight difference but should I see big improvements by now. I am now watering twice a week at a little over 1/2" each time. Thanks.

    Matt
     
  2. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,112

    Sounds to me like your useing Rainbirds occilating sprinklers and need to change over to Hunter or ano9ther kind that put out a fine spray.You may be overshooting the grass.
     
  3. br1dge

    br1dge LawnSite Member
    Posts: 49

    I would also increase the amount to 1" or more per watering event.
     
  4. out4now

    out4now LawnSite Bronze Member
    from AZ
    Posts: 1,796

    Ground drys from the top down so even though the surface may appear dy it may not be underneath. When in doubt I take a core sample and look at the profile to see how far down it is wet. What type of grass is it? It may need more water depending on variety, also what type of soil is it in? Your local cooperative extension office may have a wesite that you can get with specific water recommendations for the area you live in. From the sound of it though I'm guessing that it is underwatering but it could be something else. In fact this should help if I found the right area : http://gardening.wsu.edu/text/lawns.htm
     
  5. snmhanson

    snmhanson LawnSite Member
    Posts: 59

    Thanks for all the replies. The lawn is a rye/blue/fescue mix. I actually am using all Hunter I-20 heads so I think I have a good quality sprinkler. I put between 1/2" to 3/4" on the front on Monday and Thursday mornings and the same on the back on Tuesday and Friday mornings but until two weeks ago I was only doing one day a week. I would water a little more if that would help but they recently doubled our water rates here and it is already costing about $400 a month to water our 1/2 acre of grass. We're getting close to the point where it will just make more sense to let it go dormant during the summer then to keep pumping money into it trying to get it to green up. Should I give it a couple more weeks to see what happens, increase my watering times a little or take another course of action? Thanks.

    Matt
     
  6. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,654

    Putting down 1 - 1.5" of water per week is pretty slim for this time of the year without getting additional help from rainfall. I just checked your temperatures on the Web and see them up into the 90's and upper 80's. In these temperatures, like here, you should expect to put down about 2.5" of water. Cost of the water unfortunately doesn't change what the turf needs, alas. Watering two days a week normally would be fine if you were deep watering turf which had good long roots in rich organic matter.

    You may want to try .5" every other day, and would probably have to do this for a while until the grass begins to recover, and then begin to back off slightly while keeping an eye on things. Other options... plant more shade trees in key areas, or (not so easy)reconfigure your irrigation zones to water more in the dry open areas and less in the shaded areas. Third option... tap into your neighbors main water line. Good luck.
     
  7. snmhanson

    snmhanson LawnSite Member
    Posts: 59

    Thanks for all of the replies on this. I have upped my watering amounts considerably and although it is not very apparant yet I think I am starting to see results. How long should it take to see results assuming I am putting enough water on?

    Also, on really warm days when the sprinklers aren't set to go off is it beneficial at all to run a short cycle through the system? I am talking about 20-25 minutes per zone on mostly ~1/4" precipitation per hour nozzles and head to head spacing throughout. Does doing this just get the blades and top layer of dirt wet and basically evaporate or does at least some of it make it deeper into the soil? Will it help reduce the stress from the heat or is it a waste? Thanks.

    Matt
     
  8. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,654

    It doesn't take long to brown up a lawn, but turning it back around can be a bit frustrating since it can take quite while.

    Since this is your own property, you can monitor the system closely. When temps drop and/or you begin to get rainfall, you'll want to go back to less frequent but deeper watering. Needless to say, you could become a real pro with your controller.

    On very hot days, especially with consistant dry wind, you can syringe the turf with a light sprinkling. Though this doesn't replace the normal watering schedule, it does cool the turf down and therefore should help reduce its stress.

    By the way, as you know, you can water the living daylights out of some types of soils, such as marine sand, and before you know it its bone dry. There's a lot underground that determines what you results you see above ground. I wonder if you have a soil sampling tool such as the one below? It's a good tool to have to see what's happening down there.

    cspoutdoors_1855_2761274.jpg
     
  9. BryPaulD

    BryPaulD LawnSite Senior Member
    from MI
    Posts: 392

    Have you put any fertilizer down??
     
  10. snmhanson

    snmhanson LawnSite Member
    Posts: 59

    I have put down fertilizer manually and I also have a Fertigator installed which I have been using this year. Incidently, I increased the watering substantially and changed the schedule a little and it really seems to be coming back. I will get a better idea over the next week or two but both my wife and myself agree that there is more green and less yellow now. And for some more good news, I made a mistake on the spreadsheet I was using to figure out my watering costs and they are only going to be about 1/2 of what I thought. So now I am watering away and enjoying some greener grass. Thanks for all of the help.

    Matt
     

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