MSU:Water lightly and frequently during summer?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by slash8118, Jun 30, 2012.

  1. slash8118

    slash8118 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 43

    I live in Tennessee and was reading thru an article put out by the university here:

    Below is the specific part of the article that i wish to discuss: basically-
    I am trying to figure out which school of thought would be better for my lawn (which is Tall Fescue)?

    "One irrigation philosophy is to water thoroughly
    and infrequently in an effort to encourage
    turfgrass plants to develop deep roots. The soil
    is moistened to a depth of at least 6 inches and
    the turf is not irrigated again until symptoms of
    drought stress begin to appear. Many industry
    professionals managing turfgrasses in loam soil
    keep this philosophy in mind and set irrigation
    systems to apply ½ inch (about 320 gallons per
    1,000 square feet) of water no more than twice
    each week. When thoroughly irrigating turfs
    maintained on slopes or in heavy clay soils, it may
    be necessary to activate sprinkler heads in each
    zone several times to avoid runoff.

    Another irrigation philosophy, based, in part, on
    research conducted at Michigan State University,
    is to irrigate lightly and often (e.g., 1/10 to 2/10
    inch of water every other day) during the summer.
    A goal is to meet the daily water requirement
    of shallowly rooted turfgrasses while conserving
    water by preventing runoff and the percolation of
    water below the turfgrass root zone. Damage from
    certain diseases and insects may be reduced when
    water is applied by light, frequent rather than
    deep, infrequent irrigation."
  2. ReddensLawnCare

    ReddensLawnCare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,651

    Bermuda and other warm season turfs have shallow roots, while fescue should have deep roots. Does that help? You should water infrequently and heavily
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. R&S Lawn Care

    R&S Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 294

    What is considered shallow vs. deep? I ask because i was doing some dirt work in my yard and found common bermuda roots about 8-10" deep and there were still roots in ground past that depth. My 5 acres is non irrigated, and red clay in areas a few inches below the surface. I aerate once a year, which has helped tremendously. I've started providing fall fescue overseeding with good success, but ive not yet dug up any fescue to see root depth.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  4. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378

    Posted via Mobile Device
  5. ReddensLawnCare

    ReddensLawnCare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,651

    I had no idea it went that deep. I have always seen it around 4"-6 max.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  6. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    The readers of this article could walk away thinking that light daily watering is a good idea... :laugh:

    but all kidding aside,,, it was good to hear it said that multiple irrigation events per day to get clay/slopes to soak in rather than runoff...
  7. R&S Lawn Care

    R&S Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 294

    Where im at, any water is better than no water! I would like to do some experimenting with sub soil irrigation.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  8. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,335

    The frequency of irrigation is dependent on water use rate and soil type. Clay soils, for example, hold more water than sandy soils and, consequently, require less frequent irrigations. The depth of the rootzone also influences the frequency of irrigations. Bermudagrass roots can grow to a depth of six feet or more depending on soil profile characteristics. However, the majority of the root system, 80% or more, is found in the top 6 inches of soil. Where roots extend several feet into the soil, thorough and infrequent irrigation produces the most drought tolerant turf. Light, frequent irrigations such as practiced on golf greens produce shallow-rooted grass that shows drought stress very rapidly.
  9. Duekster

    Duekster LawnSite Fanatic
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 7,961

    In my book 1/10 of an inch is not effective so those folks need to be slapped. My feeling is 0.25 or more per application and I like to see 0.4 to .05 applied via soak cycle on heavy clay.

    The concern is over Joe home owner being told to water deeply and restricted to one or two days so he waters to the point of run off, and or well past the effective roots zone.

    The other concern is if you do have to cut back frequency on Turf that is used to getting watered every day. Turf will become lazy and put energy into top growth instead of deeper roots if watered some every day. I say let the roots chase the deeper water.

    I know that is a point of debate at TAMU, if you can influance root growth with watering frequency.
  10. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,335

    tmax = [1 / (P * b)] * {fo - P + fc * [ln (fo - fc) / (P - fc)]}

Share This Page