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Watering-deep or frequent and shallow??

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by sparking, Jul 29, 2002.

  1. sparking

    sparking LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    I had believed that my grass, mainly kentucky blue, zone 5, would prefer deep watering, maybe twice a week (total 1" wkly). To promote deeper roots that could sustain some drought and water during early am hours. Maybe supplemented with an occasional light watering during the hottest part of the day to cool it-only on the hottest days. But, recently was told to do frequent, shallow watering and water in the afternoon-evaporation? I didn't believe him but a university's research backed him up.????
    P.S. I would like to replace grass with one of the improved varieties of kent. blue that are more drought tolerant (sorry irrigation people) and slower growing. Any suggestions for info? And , what is the latest on watering?
    I also mow tall, 3.5 ", in the summer, alternate mowing direction, mulch and fertilize twice a yr with a slow-relaease fert., for root development not growth. Has that changed?? Thanks!!!
  2. HBFOXJr

    HBFOXJr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,712

    If your soil is sandy that regime doesn't work well. For years I advised every other day watering. Now I suggest once a day if possible.

    Sandy soil only holds about .75 in of water in the top foot of soil. Here in NJ just east of Philadelphia, we require .15 to .25 in of water per day in June and July according to historic evapotranspiration data. That is 1.4 inches per week. I found in the great drought of 2001 that supplying about .2 in per day during that period of June & July that turf held up excellent with no rain for weeks on end.

    So 1" delivered split into 2 apps may not be enough. This method only works if you start before moisture is depleted or stress occurs.

    It is frequently unreasonable to apply the 1" once a week that many "garden pros" recommend. Sprinkler may have to run for hours on each zone to deliver thast depending on design. Soil and site conditions may make it a waste. It is also a useless bit of info because the amount needed varies with climate and type of turf grown. It is much more water efficient to spoon feed it out daily.

    Use is not dependent on soil type. The only time that comes in play is how long the turf can go with out added moiusture in any form under particular season conditions. Weather (climate) and type of turf control demand.

    Rutger University recommends watering after midnight and finishing by 8 am if possible.

    I personally don't like that long a cut on manicured blue. The grass gets very stemy and the leaves set high on the stem. That extra lower dense layer of stems hold lots of dampness that aid problem development. I personally prefer 2.5" to 3" on blue and mixed turf.
  3. sparking

    sparking LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    Thanks for your reply. The area is fortunate to have loam-type soil. I sometimes am cutting to a height of 3" unless it has become so thick, sometimes in only 4 days, and tries to stall mower. I run the sprinkler system in the early am hours, i.e. 4 am.
    Thanks again.
  4. Ground Master

    Ground Master LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 505

    As a side note, "the complete irrigation workbook" by larry keesen has excellent information regarding this very subject.

    He expands on this subject in great detail. I believe the most important point is short run times and several cycle starts per irrigation period. He recommends no more than 8 minutes for spray zones amd 18 minutes for rotor zones. But you need to run through your zones 2 to 3 times per watering.
  5. Sean Adams

    Sean Adams LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,597

    I have also been hearing conflicting watering information. Deep and less frequent vs. light and more frequent....early morning vs. throughout the day.... I'm confused.
  6. wolfpacklawn

    wolfpacklawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 120

    We've had success at getting deep watering by watering an area 3 times in a row about 2 hours apart. So- 10-12 min at 5am, 10-12 min at 7am, then again at 9am. This gets good penetration for root growth and you don't waste much water with runoff. We do this ever 3 or 4 days. This keeps the grass growing enough for us to cut it weekly and the lawns look great.

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