Water as needed

This typically doesn’t become a concern until the hotter summer months (July/August). To keep turf at it’s healthiest, experts recommend it getting 1″ of water per week either from rain or irrigation. It’s our observation that rain usually counts as double as far as lawn health and appearance goes. 1/2″ of rain provides similar results as 1″ of irrigation (watering with sprinklers). So we’d recommend 1″ of water per week and doubling rain quantities in your tallies.

To figure out how long your sprinkler needs to run, put tuna cans throughout the sprinklers spray pattern. A tuna can is just over 1″ deep so timing how long it takes to fill will give you the run time needed for 1″ of irrigation on your turf.

Deep and infrequent irrigation is much better for your turf than daily watering. Daily watering “spoils” the turf. The roots never need to grow deeper when water is always available. Watering deeply two or three times per week encourages your turf’s root system to grow deeper and bigger/healthier in general. Big, deep, strong roots collect more nutrients in good and bad weather conditions. This makes a healthier grass plant and will always produce better looking grass blades up top.

Our friends at Irrigation Management gave us some ballpark timing information on in-ground sprinkler systems.

There’s two types of in-ground sprinkler zones and they have different timing criteria for quantity of water. You may need to have different timings for different zones throughout your lawn.

Regardless of zone, more than 0.4 inches of irrigation at a time is wasted. The roots and grass are saturated after 0.4 inches aren’t absorbing any more water.

Spray zone: 10 minutes = 0.2 inches of irrigation
Rotor zone: 30 minutes = 0.2 inches of irrigation
Cycle and Soak: Splitting your watering time when you do water is a great idea for clay soils and on hills. The ground will be saturated and the irrigation will begin to run off sooner (be wasted) in these conditions.

Ex) If one of your zones is a hill and your total run time is should be 20 minutes, run that zone at the beginning for 10 minutes, then run the rest of your zones, and then do another 10 minutes on the hill when the other zones are finished. This will minimize runoff.

Keep your mower blades sharp

Dull blades tear grass instead of cutting it. Imagine opening an envelope with your finger (dull blade) versus a letter opener (sharp blade). Torn grass blades form yellow tips making an otherwise healthy lawn look faded and unhealthy. Notice the difference below?

Professional mowing companies typically sharpen their blades every work day which is about 4 hours of mowing. If it takes you a half hour to mow your lawn, that would equate to sharpening your blades every two months for optimal results.

Mow as frequently as needed

This is especially important in the spring. Cutting more than 1/3 of the grass blade off puts significant stress on turf. Nutrients are re-directed to recovery instead of a healthy green appearance. Additionally, leaving a bunch of cut grass thatch on top of the lawn can cause ugly turf diseases if not completely kill the grass underneath.

If your lawn looks like the picture after mowing, you aren’t mowing frequently enough.

For most people who mow at 3″, the grass should be no higher than 4.5″ when cut. This can mean mowing as frequently as every three days in the spring.