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Hybrid Bermuda in Memphis, TN area - how much watering?

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by Threxx, Jul 27, 2005.

  1. Threxx

    Threxx LawnSite Member
    Messages: 92

    I had a rainbird system along with EZ-Flo fertigation pump profesionally installed this summer, but I think the installer just threw a rough number out there when I asked him how long to water. I understand that it's somewhat dependent on the flow of my system, but I also understand that I can put out a measuring cup to measure the inches of water being put out in in given number of minutes worth of watering.

    I have hybrid bermuda and live in the Memphis, TN area where it remains fairly hot all summer long (average temp is 82 degrees during the growing season including highs and lows). My question is roughly how many inches should I be watering with on my turf per watering session/week/month/whatever, and how many sessions should I be watering for per week?

    I know rain fall affects this, but I have a rainbird wireless rain sensor, so I assume that'll keep me from having to watch rainfall levels from week to week.

    I can't find a decent answer to this anywhere on the internet, and I'm
    just not very confident in the guess my installer gave me (he said set it
    for 20 minutes 4 times a week for turf and 12 minutes 4 times a week for

    Thanks a lot!
  2. br1dge

    br1dge LawnSite Member
    Messages: 49

    Your goal should be to apply enough water to soak the soil to a depth of six to eight inches when you first notice a sign of wilt. This amount is usually equivalent to about one inch of rainfall, but will vary with soil type. Sandy soil requires one-half inch water to wet the soil eight inches deep, while clay soil would need one-and-three-fourth inches of water.

    In order to gauge this, you need to know your irrigation system's rate of application. The best way to determine this is to set out pie plates or other open containers while watering and check how long it takes to fill the containers to a one-inch depth.

    Generally, watering about once a week is sufficient, but adjust your schedule based on the first signs of wilt. If you have rolling hills or clay soils, some runoff may occur. In this case, turn the sprinkler off for awhile, then back on after the water has soaked in.

    The best time to water is from 9 p.m. to 10 a.m. Watering from 4 to 8 p.m will cause fungus problems. The most efficient time to set your sprinklers is during the hours just before daylight because this is the coolest time of the day. It is also important to provide long, deep irrigation rather than frequent shallow waterings.

    Another from an article I found---------------

    Water to a soil depth of 4 to 6 inches. Probe with a screwdriver to determine moisture depth. Bermudagrass needs a weekly application of about 1 to 1 1/4 inches of water. On sandy soils it often requires more frequent watering, for example, 1/2 inch of water every third day. It is often necessary to irrigate an area for 3 to 5 hours to apply 1 inch of water. (It requires 640 gallons of water to deliver 1 inch of water per thousand square feet.) Because clay soils accept water slowly, irrigate just until runoff occurs, wait 1/2 hour until the water has been absorbed, then continue irrigating until the desired depth or amount is obtained. A dark bluish gray color, footprinting, and wilted, folded, or curled leaves indicate that it is time to water. Proper irrigation may prevent car reduce pest problems and environmental stress later in the summer.
  3. NickN

    NickN LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Alabama
    Messages: 1,009

    Your installer is correct.Although bermuda is very drought tolerant,it loves water.Another factor is if the area is on a slope.That area will require more water due to runoff.Low lying areas generally require less watering.Areas with rocks or sand require more water also.
  4. br1dge

    br1dge LawnSite Member
    Messages: 49

    strongly disagree with Nickn. 20 minutes is not enough time (unless growing in sand) to irrigate down to the root zone... that schedule will cause excessive top growth with little root development creating an unhealthy turf.

    Bremuda DOES love water, but it also likes it deep...
  5. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,360

    Since I'm in Memphis, I guess I will give my knowledge away on this one. Every lawn is a little different, but on the normal week here, about 30-45 minutes per zone 2 times per week is usually more than enough. If you water too often the roots don't grow deep. If you water to much you can drown it. One of the worst things you can do is overwater. Unfortunately, most homeowners think "I've spent all this money I better water everyday to get my money's worth."

    My hybrid bermuda lawn has been water 1-2 times per week back when we were in the drought pattern. I haven't watered it now in about 3 weeks and its doing just fine. If I had a system I would only have it on 1-2 times per week for 30 minutes. Our soil structure here will make good use of that. The root zone on Bermuda in this area is not very deep so trying to get water 6-8 inches down is useless. Other areas may be different, but not in this MS delta soil structure.
  6. OrganicBob

    OrganicBob LawnSite Member
    Messages: 73

    I live in Memphis. We need a lot of water this time of year, no matter how much it rains. If the lawn looks dry, water it. It is really as simple as that. Don't allow water to stand as it causes mildew, which is common in many grasses, esp. bermuda varieties. I'd recommend watering about 3 or 4 times weekly. Be sure to move your sprinkler around to get even coverage over the whole lawn. You'll have to mow more often, but that helps bermuda spread and thicken anyway.
  7. OrganicBob

    OrganicBob LawnSite Member
    Messages: 73

    Water in the morning, earlier the better. Watering at night can lead to mildew. In the middle of the day, you lose a lot to evaporative water loss.
  8. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,360

    I disagree, the more you water it the more it needs water. I've been specializing in soil structures and the unique situation of the Memphis area for a long time and if you need to water right now after the rain we had last week then you don't have a watering problem you have a soil structure and nutrient problem. With over 200 soil tests and all the hands on experience in this market, if you water a lot, you have other problems. I am one of the few that own aerators and the ONLY person in Memphis with a topdresser for residential lawns. The reason...cheap builders, clay soil, no real prep work and then sod it. I get paid to fix those problems. To many people assume you throw more fertilizer and water to and it fixes it. It doesn't, it masks the real problem and creates more long term.
  9. Threxx

    Threxx LawnSite Member
    Messages: 92

    Maybe a stupid question but what is a top dresser?

    Also, you say 1-2 times per week @ 30-45 minutes, but it also kinda depends on the rate of water flow, right? So how many inches would you say that equates to? The 1-1.25 inches per week mentioned earlier? So say 2x per week @ 30 minutes per application and then increase the # of minutes as high as 45 if it gets particularly hot?

    Thanks again everyone!:)
  10. OrganicBob

    OrganicBob LawnSite Member
    Messages: 73

    You're right, but assuming that a lawn in Memphis hasn't been virtually ruined before it ever had a chance by builders, is silly. Good soil quality (on lawns) is hard to find in these parts. YOur advise is good though. I mean, one wouldn't be on this site if they weren't really interested in long term productive solutions for common lawn problems. Oh, and by the way, many of the LCOs in Memphis own aerators. I own 12. I also do topdressing :waving: However, it is good to know that others in the area are very conscious of our collective soil problems and are offering real solutions and not just covering up the real issues like the builders who cover everything-literally.

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