Over-watering is one of the leading causes of excess weeds and plant diseases in landscaping. South Florida's hot climate and sandy earth can cause large water losses from the soil and plants, but watering your lawn too much will only cause other problems. It is more important to water your lawn and ornamentals at the appropriate time of day and for the right amount of time.
Frequent light watering causes shallow root systems that are not good for healthy turf. If a drought comes along, your lawn could be in trouble.
To develop a deep root system, lawns should only be watered when the first signs of wilt occur. Things to look for include: Spots in the lawn that turn bluish-gray, footprints that remain in the grass long after being made, and many leaf blades folded in half, lengthwise. These are all indications that the lawn needs water.
Most home irrigation systems have automatic controls that run your sprinklers without you having to turn them on manually. This modern convenience is a must if you are out of town for part of the year. However, unless you are able to adjust the run cycle to compensate for the weekly rainfall, this convenience can be detrimental to your lawn and shrubs.
It is important to remember when using supplemental watering to apply enough water to wet the soil in the root zone when your lawn starts to show signs of stress.
For South Florida's sandy soils, ¾ to 1 inch of water is ideal (see section on sprinkler systems to determine your system's water output).
The next watering should be withheld until signs of wilt occur again. This technique works regardless of turf grass species, soil type, season or other environmental conditions.
It may take up to 6 weeks to condition a turf to survive several days or more without wilting between irrigations or rainfalls. During this time, the root system is developing and growing deeper into the soil. Stolons (above the ground stems) that are not rooted will tend to die and be mowed off.
In time, the lawn will establish a more uniform appearance with less thatch and a deeper root system that can better utilize water and nutrition. Irrigation on an as-needed basis is an efficient way to water any grass, providing the proper amount of water is applied when needed and not at a later or more convenient time. During prolonged droughts, irrigation may be needed more often.
Proper watering is an important part of your lawn care, but it is only one of many steps to a green and healthy yard. Hulett Environmental Services offers a full array of lawn pest, plant disease, weed control, and specialized fertilization services to meet your landscape's specific needs.