You worked hard all summer to keep your lawn looking like the picturesque vision of the American dream. Leaves were meticulously removed. Sharp attention was paid to grass height, and decorative flowerbeds created intricate designs across the landscape. Grass doesn’t dare stretch across the sidewalk on your property. Or, maybe you just cultivated a nice stretch of lawn.
Whatever level of attention to detail you manage, don’t let the change in temperature ruin your masterpiece.
Lawn care over the cooler months requires a different approach, particularly as it concerns watering. As the leaves begin to fall and cold fronts move in, it’s time to adjust, or turn off, those automated sprinkler systems.
Texas has a limited amount of water
That natural resource becomes increasingly limited as the population continues to grow.
Businesses and homeowners can play a significant role in water conservation efforts by learning to properly water their green space.
Lawn irrigation often accounts for nearly half of homeowner water usage, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. So appropriate lawn irrigation saves not only water, but money.
Most homeowners drastically over-water lawns, according to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office. Not only does that waste precious water, but overwatering can harm lawn quality more than under watering, according to the Extension Office.
And of course, the way one cares for their lawn affects the amount of water it needs, from proper fertilization, mowing practices, controlling thatch, reducing soil compaction, among other factors, as well as how one adjusts to environmental conditions.
“With low humidity, high temperatures, and/or high winds, water is quickly lost from the soil by transpiration and evaporation (evapotranspiration), and grass will need watering more often,” according to the Extension Office. “When weather is cool, humid, and/or less windy, grass will need less water.”
So how exactly do you change your watering behaviors?
Throw out your summer watering schedule. Instead, pay attention to the lawn.
Wait until the grass begins to show signs of drought stress before watering again, such as, when leaf blades begin folding or footprints across the yard remain instead of vanishing like the person who created them, according to the Extension Office. And when you do water, do so in the early mornings when the wind is typically at its lowest point of the day to help prevent evaporation. Watering in the evening can keep leaves from sufficiently drying for an extended period, which increases the chances of disease.
Texas’ green spaces are as different as the stars that glisten the sky of the Lone Star State. But there are some general practices Texans can keep in mind when adjusting their watering schedule for cooler months and preserving all that hard work and time put in before the temperature fell.
Soil type, sprinkler style and water pressure can all affect how much water is adequately needed for your yard. So, try these tips from the Extension Office:
• Set five to six open-top cans randomly on the lawn - cans with short sides such as tuna or cat food cans work best.
• Turn the sprinkler head or system on for 30 minutes.
• Measure and record the depth of water caught in each individual can.
• Calculate the average depth of water from all of the cans. For example, you have used five cans in your yard. The amount of water found in the cans was as follows: 0.5 inch, 0.4 inch,0.6 inch, 0.4 inch, and 0.6 inch. Add the depths together and then divide by the number of cans you used (five in this case)
1.5inch + 0.4 inch + 0.6 inch + 0.4 inch + 1.6 inch = 2.5 inches, 5 cans = 0.5 inch of water in 30 minutes
• Use a garden spade or a soil probe to determine how deeply the soil was wet during the 30 minutes.
• From the amount of water that was applied in the 30-minute cycle and the depth that it wet the soil, you can then determine how long the sprinkler must run to wet the soil to a depth of 6 inches.
You can return to that watering schedule once the sweltering heat returns, but until then, take the time to ensure you’re not overwatering or wasting water and money. Small changes can go a long way in protecting a vital natural resource and the headache of a dead lawn.