As most of us know (and feel) North Texas has exceeded 26 days of consecutive 100°days, ranking this summer in 3rd place for greatest number of consecutive days over 100°…ever. For most North Texans with ornamental lawns, the oppressive heat and extreme drought do no favors for the health of their yards. Despite strict water restrictions being enforced by Dallas & Tarrant Counties, no lawn should be compromised due to lack of water. It is essential to have a properly working irrigation system in place and to know the best way to water your lawn during these extreme conditions.
Watering Your Lawn The Right Way: Knowing Your Lawn and Irrigation System
The number one thing to keep in mind during the April 1st through October 31st water restriction period is that watering your lawn the right way can prevent your lawn from suffering under the heat. During these times it is important to resist the urge to constantly water your lawn. Watering too long and too often results in weaker and shallow roots structures and can compromise your lawn’s ability to survive both freezing temperatures and extreme heat and drought.
For pristine lawns, popular St Augustine & Bermuda grasses should be watered 1-4 times a week and receive a total of about 2″ of irrigated water during the current drought conditions. The amount of irrigated water, however, should be adjusted seasonally to correspond with the rate of evapotranspiration (ie. January conditions will mean less watering because of lower ET rates). Under the current restrictions, this recommendation should be usable by most homeowners across North Texas. Keep in mind that other types of native grasses may require less water under the same weather conditions and be mindful of signs of stress to determine when your lawn needs to be watered.
Over-watering can be harmful to your lawn and it is also one of the most prevalent causes of water waste. Homeowners who use automatic timers for their irrigation systems are particularly susceptible to over-watering due to poor irrigation scheduling.
Under-watering is another serious problem. Sprinkler heads that provide a direct stream of water at a lower pressure spread larger drops of water and can help reduce the amount of evaporation. Spray or mist irrigation systems tend to emit smaller drops of water that often evaporate before touching the ground. The difference between direct stream or spray sprinkler heads becomes especially apparent when morning low temperatures are high, causing even the lowest evaporation rate to be relatively high.
While watering your lawn the correct way is important, a properly running irrigation system is essential to keep your lawn thriving. Some of the most common irrigation problems include broken or missing sprinkler heads, programming errors, system leaks, faulty equipment, incorrect water pressure, & poor irrigation coverage. Your lawn should not be compromised due to lack of watering. To ensure that your irrigation system is working efficiently a licensed irrigator can help identify any problems with your irrigation system and complete any necessary repairs or system updates, including retro-fitting systems to add rain and freeze sensors.
Maintenance Tips for the Summer:
* Water your lawn longer and in multiple intervals
* Spray head irrigation is insufficient for trees – bubblers are recommended or use a water hose on a low setting for 1-2 hours weekly
* Add mulch to decrease soil temperatures and to reduce the amount of water evaporation
* Brush your swimming pool as often as necessary to deter the growth of algae in higher temperatures
* Make sure the pool has enough water – the level should be up to mid-way in the skimmers
*Check chlorine levels regularly and add as necessary (chlorine tends to degrade more quickly in higher temperatures)
* Check & clean your swimming pool filter if necessary, especially during summer peak periods of use
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