Let's talk about whether your grass is getting all the water it needs to stay green this season.
A lot of people ask us every year what the "secret" to a healthy, green lawn is. And while there are a number of factors that play into healthy grass, the big "secret" isn't really a secret at all. Grass needs water--and plenty of it, especially if you have some of the sandier soil types common to our area of east central Texas. Let's talk about some things you can do to make sure your lawn is getting all of the water it needs this season.
Whether you're growing St. Augustine or Bermuda (or any other type of turf grass), a huge key to effective watering is getting the moisture deep enough below the surface for the grass to send its roots further down into the soil. Shallow root systems are easily scorched by surface-level heat and sunlight, and shallow watering keeps plant roots closer to the surface.
Shallow root systems can be a problem for grass in other ways too. Perhaps you have noticed that it can be difficult to get grass to grow around certain trees in your yard? This could be because shallow water availability has encouraged those trees and shrubs to produce shallow root systems that are crowding out the grass. Deep watering helps encourage those other "competing" plants to send their roots down deeper for moisture, too, and that leaves more room closer to the surface for grass roots to find the nutrients they need to increase their footprint in your lawn.
We encourage customers to purchase a moisture meter (we carry them here at the nursery) and periodically check to ensure that water is penetrating down to a depth of at least six inches. If you're having trouble getting moisture that deep, you may need to make some changes to your watering routine or consider taking steps to restructure your soil composition at the topsoil layer. We'll be happy to help you form a plan of action if so.
Healthy lawns generally require at least one inch of water weekly. That's enough to keep grass and other plants from starting to send their roots back to the surface looking for a drink. But while that may not sound like a lot of water, we find that many customers have an inaccurate idea of just how much water it takes to reach this standard. If you're uncertain, we suggest setting out an empty tuna fish or cat food can (which is roughly one inch tall) on your turf in the middle of your next sprinkler watering area. Time the application and see how long it takes for the water level in the can to reach the top. This would be roughly the equivalent of one inch of rainfall. Then, keep in mind that you'll need to move your sprinklers around to ensure that all parts of your turf are consistently receiving that same volume.
Water at the right time
The best time to water the grass--or any plants, for that matter--is early in the morning. Soil is cool at that time, so less water evaporates on its way down, and this gives the grass plenty of time to take a long drink before the daytime warmth begins evaporating surface-level moisture. This also gives grass blades time to thoroughly dry during the day, which helps prevent fungal issues from taking over. (This is why it is unadvisable to consistently water overnight, many hours before sunrise. Leaving moisture in continuous contact with grass blades promotes fungal growth.)
Follow these instructions, and you'll have a much better chance of seeing your lawn weather our hot central Texas summers looking green and healthy. Of course, if we go under local water restrictions in the summer, it can be difficult to maintain the kind of watering regimen we're proposing here; but keep in mind that good watering today helps improve your lawn's ability to use nutrients efficiently tomorrow--and this can make it more drought-tolerant in the long run.
Meanwhile, don't forget to stop by the nursery for all the sprinklers, garden hoses, and watering accessories you need. Our staff will be more than happy to take care of you!