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The 411 on H2O - How to water your lawn correctly.

Friday, July 3rd, 2020 by Art Ditzel

The 411 on H2O - How to water your lawn correctly.


The 411 on H2O - How to water your lawn correctly. - Image 1


When managed correctly you can have both a lush green summer lawn while still being water conscious. The Environmental Protection Agency, known as the EPA, has estimated that over thirty-three percent of all residential water use goes directly onto the ground in our front yards. Of that water, roughly 50% is wasted due to inefficient and poorly timed watering practices. Rising water prices, environmental consciousness, and social responsibility are all factors to consider when designing your watering schedule. Fortunately, you can be a friend to the environment while still enjoying a rich and vibrant lawn.

A healthy lawn and water conservation begin with choosing the correct turf type. The closer your turf grasses' natural need align with your environmental conditions, the higher your chances of success. Regional appropriate grasses thrive with less manual watering and require less all-around maintenance. Cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass or tall fescue grasses naturally do best in cool, northern zones, while warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda Grass or Zoysia grass, flourish in warm, southern climes.


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Grasses used in Maryland 

Grass varieties generally consist of turf-type tall fescue, bluegrass, ryegrass, fine fescue, or mixtures of these grasses. Turf type fescue is used where drought tolerance is the primary focus. Some people are using zoysia grass in MD. This is a warm-season grass that will go dormant and turn brown during all cold months (approximately 6 months) in MD.

Cool-Season Grasses:
Tall Fescue - The new turf-type tall fescues are excellent for Maryland. While they take a little while to establish or recuperate since they are a clump-type grass, they are extremely wear-resistant; drought-, heat- and salt-tolerant; and moderately shade tolerant. Tall fescues have few disease problems and require less maintenance than other grasses. Kentucky bluegrass is the first grass to brown out in the summer and tall fescue is the last.

Kentucky Bluegrass - This high-quality turf has a nice green color and good recuperative ability. But, it damages easily, suffers from heat and drought, requires moderately high maintenance, has a tendency to thatch, is susceptible to many diseases, and is intolerant of shade or salt.

Perennial ryegrasses are bunching cool-season grasses that are compatible in appearance with bluegrass, do not form thatch, have good heat tolerance, and maybe drought resistant. They tend to be disease prone and offer poor freezing tolerance if flooded or exposed to wind. Perennial ryegrasses are designed for full sun areas but will tolerate some shade. Ryegrass is bred to give a pleasing dark green color, with a fine texture and excellent mowing qualities. Is also a very good choice for blends with Kentucky Bluegrass and Fine Fescue.

Fine-leaf Fescues - Fine fescues have an extremely narrow, almost needle-like leaf blade. They are included in turfgrass mixtures for their excellent shade tolerance. Fine-leaf fescue often appears in neglected lawns because it withstands a high pH. Due to its fine texture, fine-leaf fescue is often difficult to mow.

Warm-Season Grasses:
Zoysiagrass - This is the only warm-season grass grown as a lawn in Maryland. Zoysia is easy to identify because its leaves are covered with stiff hairs. It remains brown well into the spring and turns brown again with the first fall frost. Zoysia is very invasive and is often a bone of contention between neighbors. The only logical place for zoysia grass is at a beach residence where it is viewed only during the summer.


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General Lawn Watering Facts:

  • Your lawn needs at least 1”-1 ½” of water per week.
  • Water deeply 2-3 times per week, rather than daily.
  • Water as early in the morning as you can, before 7 AM.
  • If you can’t push a 6” screwdriver into your lawn, you’re not watering enough.
  • You will need to water more in the heat, especially if you have a fescue lawn.
  • Don’t water so long that it runs down the street. 
  • If you have automatic sprinklers, check them regularly to be sure you’re getting complete coverage.
  • If a brown area doesn’t respond to watering, look for another problem.
  • Your grass can get too much water. If your grass gets too much water, it doesn’t get oxygen and can actually suffocate. Too much water also makes your grass more susceptible to disease.
  •  Cut grass at 3.5-4” to help shade the roots. Taller grass has a deeper root system that draws moisture from a larger volume of soil and doesn’t require as much watering.


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How to Know if Your Grass is Getting the Right Amount of Water:

  • ·  Can Test: Place multiple water gauges or tuna or cat food cans on the lawn in separate locations. For 15 minutes, run your sprinkler or irrigation systems and measure the water in the catch basins. This will help you determine how long you need to run your sprinklers or irrigation system to make sure your lawn is getting the right amount of water. 
  • ·  Rain Gauges: Rely on Mother Nature to reduce your water bill. Use a rain gauge to measure how much rain your lawn is getting. If you get an inch of rain in a week, there is likely no need to run your sprinklers that week.
  • ·  Sensors: Some irrigation systems have built-in sensors that keep track of how much water your lawn has already received and will need based on recent rainfall, temperature, and soil type. 


You can contact the professions at SBC Outdoor Service to help with this or any landscape project at your home or residence. We C.A.R.E.





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