Watering. Understanding watering is critical to your lawn’s health. It’s March so you shouldn’t be watering your turf quite yet. Bermuda, St Augustine, Zoysia and other turf grasses are currently in dormancy (for the most part). All the water and fertilizer in the world will not change this state.
Turf grasses are ground temperature reactive. Until the soil can maintain a solid heat range above 62 degrees F (for Bermuda grass), the plant will remain dormant. Once this temp is consistent and you see the turf grass starting to green up all over the lawn, turn your system back on. If you are watering prior to this, you are feeding only the weeds.
Watering is the best way to grow weeds before the turf has a chance to compete. Don’t foster the health of the enemy!
So, how long should you be watering your lawn? Actually, that’s a trick question. Each irrigation system has its own GPM “gallons per minute” rate. The right question is how much water should I be putting down per week. This gets us where we need to go.
As a general rule, Bermuda grass needs approximately 1″ to 1.5″ of water per week to achieve proper ground penetration and to maintain a healthy root system. Here’s how you dial that in.
Get some empty, flat bottomed containers (nothing that has curved sides like a coffee cup) and place them throughout your lawn. Strive for approximately 3 containers per watering zone. Run your sprinkler system the way it is currently set for 1 full cycle. Once complete, go around and measure the water in each container.
In a normal, non-restrictive watering season, most towns allow for two watering days per week. The ideal result is to have .5″ to .75″ of water in each of the containers. This .5 to .75 inches of water x 2 watering days per week gives us the desired 1″ to 1.5″ of water on and in the ground. What you are going to find is that most likely, one or all of your watering zones are way off. Adjust as needed to achieve your desired amount.
While your system is running, go around and check the sprinkler heads. They may be broken and shooting straight up in the air, watering in the wrong direction or just not working at all. We usually don’t notice this because our lawns are normally irrigated while we are asleep. You might be surprised to see what’s really going on.