March 19, 2014

Early Watering In the Spring, Results in Less Watering this Summer

As we leave winter behind us, one situation will persist unless we correct a soil moisture problem.  We have all witnessed farmers watering their fields late into the fall or just prior to planting.  Farmers are recharging the "subsoil moisture", which essentially is a battery of reserved water that can be drawn upon between rains or irrigation cycles during the summer. On residential lawns, all enter the spring growing season with depleted soil moisture levels in the 2-4 feet depths.  As we move into the summer months, the irrigation water we apply can be siphoned downward as if the subsoil were a dry sponge very quickly and the roots in the A Horizon can only use it for a few hours before the water moves beyond the root tips.   If you don't follow these instructions, you are more than likely going to be forced to water daily to keep the top few inches of soil wet throughout the summer.   

Back in 2002, Green Turf Lawnscapes I (Owner Todd Graus) pioneered a new watering regime to help the residents of Greybull, Wyoming to deal with the water shortage in Shell Creek and the impending watering restrictions that were to again impact the city as they did in 2001.  The idea was to force root to grow deeper to allow them to draw water from a deeper profile that summer.  By 2005 our watering instructions were being picked up by the residents of Colorado due to the drought impacting that state.  Bottom line, this system works.

How It's Done

In the spring before the soil temperatures heat up and the roots of lawns begin to develop, it may sound crazy but it is possible to begin to water our own lawn crops to replenish the subsoil moisture in the B & C Horizons.  Sadly however, most lawns have their roots just in the A Horizon.


Therefore, we will ask you to water deep and heavy early as the lawn is greening up and then ask you to withhold water for the next few months to help force the roots to look for water deeper in the B Horizon.  There is no need to water because the temps are cool enough and we still get a few spring rains to prevent the lawn from drying up to much,

When the "spring root development phase" is completed, the results are deeper roots which can draw water from a larger and deeper soil profile in the summer. Remember, this can only be done as the lawn is coming out of dormancy and until the lawn is being mowed regularly.  Most of your neighbors will have a shallow root systems this year as they have had forever, their roots will only located in the A Horizon which will require them to water much more this summer. You on the other hand will be able to voluntarily water less still maintain a healthy turf and greener color resistant to higher pressures of bugs and crud.

Make every effort to schedule your watering system to be turned on by April 1st. (Except in Jackson - shoot for April 15th) We have been reviewing  the historic weather data tables and have concluded that by these dates in the spring there will be no danger of a late frost driving deep enough into the soil to freeze up an activated watering system.

On the other hand, IF you can’t get it turned on because your ditch water hasn’t arrived yet or your irrigation company hasn't gotten to you yet, just hook up a couple of hoses to the city water system and water 2-3 hours in each position. Following is an example of a watering regime proven to work.

Remember to follow the strict watering instruction when you receive your first fertilizer application so you may have to alter slightly the schedule below.

March -Irrigate every other day for 30-60 minute or until the water starts to puddle up.  When Green Turf Applies the first application, wait 3 days for the weed control to absorb into the weeds and then activate the Dry, slow release fertilizer with a deep watering and then don't water again until May or until Round 2.

April - Restrict all watering unless fertilizer and or weed application requires watering.

May - Restrict all watering unless fertilizer and or weed application requires watering.

June - When temperatures begin to average 93 degrees start watering 1 time per week.

July-September -  You may get away with water 2 times a week, 45-120 minutes per station or spot.

Dangers of Power Raking and De-thatching Blades on mowers.

Last but not least, it is important that you understand that in the spring, the roots have to make a decision, repair damaged rootsfrom winter OR grow deeper roots.

Listen closely, if you power rake or De-thatch your lawn in the spring, these machines tug, tear and pull on the root system and create some bare spots.  In this case, the roots will not grow deep because they need to use all their energy repairing the damage from the De-thatching process.  You will end up with roots only occupying the A Horizon regardless of how you water in the spring.  Just mow the lawn super short the first time and aerate your lawn instead. In addition, lawns power raked or De-thatch in the spring results in lawns struggling with crabgrass, excessive broad leaf weeds because they compete well with turf grass when their are bare spots and higher incident of lawn diseases and grubs!

Until Next Time... Start Enjoying family activities in the Out of Doors on your GREEN TURF.

Todd & Holly Graus