Methods of Watering a Florida Lawn

All warm-season lawn grasses require water for growth and maintenance processes. Without ample water, the grass is susceptible to many environmental stresses, less resistant to insects, and less likely to survive.
 

This needed water may be supplied by rain or by supplemental irrigation. Water requirements differ between species, due to management levels, and due to the ability of homeowners to supply water. Although water is important in maintaining a healthy, stress resistant lawn, the majority of homeowners over-irrigate or irrigate incorrectly.lawn sprinkler watering lawns fort lauderdale grass Too much water is damaging to turf grass and will result in the following:

A less developed and shorter root system, which has less capacity to seek out water and nutrients at lower soil depths and is also prone to attack by insects, some diseases, and nematodes.

 
An overly succulent shoot system, susceptible to disease and insect infestation.
Weaker cell walls in the shoot tissue, which reduce the strength of leaf tissue.
Buildup of excessive thatch, particularly in St. Augustine grass.


So, how much is the correct amount of water for your lawn? How long should irrigation be applied each time you irrigate? How do you know if your sprinkler system is delivering uniform amounts of water?

How often should I water my Ft Lauderdale lawn?

 Irrigation should be provided on an "as-needed basis". This means that automatic sprinkler systems should be turned off. . It is important to remember that we do, on average, receive 60 inches of rainfall or more yearly in most parts of Florida, and that the majority of this rainfall occurs between June and October.

When rainfall is adequate to meet the plant's needs, supplemental irrigation systems should be turned off. lawn sprinkler watering lawns fort lauderdale grassIrrigate when you see the following signs that your lawn is thirsty:

Leaf blades are folded in half lengthwise in an attempt to conserve water.

 
The grass takes on a blue-gray tint rather than maintaining a green color.


Footprints or tire tracks remain visible on the grass long after being made.


When approximately 50% of your lawn shows these signs of thirst, irrigate unless rain is in the immediate forecast. The intervals between irrigations will depend upon rainfall and climate, time of year, grass species, soil conditions, and micro-environmental effects, such as shade. Failure to follow these recommendations is the single largest contributor to home lawn problems.

How long should I water my Ft Lauderdale lawn?

An efficient watering wets only the turf grass root zone, does not saturate the soil, and does not allow water to run off. Florida soils are typically sandy and hold 1 inch of water in the top 12 inches of soil. If the roots are in the top 12 inches of soil and the soil is dry, then 3/4 to 1 inch of water is required to wet the area thoroughly.

This is equivalent to 465 to 620 gallons of water for each 1000 square feet of lawn. Generally, turf grasses require no more than 0.3 inches of water per day. Under extreme summer conditions, water use can be as high as 0.4 inches of water per day. During winter, when grasses are not actively growing, water use may be only 0.05 inches of water perlawn sprinkler watering lawns fort lauderdale grass day.

Light, frequent watering is inefficient and encourages shallow root systems. Excessive irrigation, which keeps the root system saturated with water, is also harmful to the lawn.

A simple watering schedule would apply 3/4 inch of water when the turf grass shows water deficit symptoms as discussed earlier. Once this ¾ inch of water is applied, do not apply any more until water symptoms are again noticeable.

What is the best time to water my Ft Lauderdale lawn?

The best time for lawn irrigation is in the early morning hours. Watering during the day wastes water due to excessive evaporation and can scald the lawn when temperatures are high. Watering in late afternoon or late morning may be detrimental if it extends the time the lawn is naturally wet from dew. This extended wet period can accelerate disease occurrence.

What is the best way to water my Ft Lauderdale lawn?

lawn sprinkler watering lawns fort lauderdale grassAn easy way to routinely check your irrigation system is to place small, straight-sided cans in a straight line from your sprinkler to the edge of the watering pattern and look for uniformity of coverage.

If an area is not receiving water from one or more heads, or if a head is not providing complete coverage, dry spots can develop.

This can lead to any of the problems associated with drought-stressed turf. While checking uniformity with the coffee can method, you can also easily determine how long it takes your system to apply ¾ -1 inch of water.

 
Turn the water on for 15 minutes and calculate the average depth of water in the cans. Multiply this number by four to determine the irrigation rate inches per hour. While checking for damaged sprinkler heads, replace any that are leaking or not providing uniform coverage. Also check to ensure that valves open and close properly.

How does the watering of my lawn affect the other plants?

Remember that a sprinkler zone may be irrigating not only turf, but landscape plants as well. These plants may have different irrigation requirements, and may be over or under watered if irrigation is based on turf grass needs.

This factor emphasizes the importance of good landscape design and irrigation planning, where all components of the system must be considered.

Do I need to do anything different for newly planted Ft Lauderdale lawn?

New turf that has just been established by sod, sprigs, or plugs has different irrigation requirements for best establishment. For 2-3 weeks following planting, the grass should receive several (5-6) short (5-8 minute) irrigations daily. This will encouragelawn sprinkler watering lawns fort lauderdale grass roots to grow down into the soil and become established.

Do not let roots dry out on newly planted grass. As the grass starts pegging down at the roots, gradually back off on the number of irrigations until you get to the "irrigation on an as-needed basis" over a couple of week period.


For more information on watering, refer to the Florida Lawn Handbook.

 

 

 


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