Monday, August 13, 2007

Lawn watering

Quick! What's the best way to water the lawn?

If you answered 'Deep and Infrequent' you are following what a million web sites (actually 1,030,000 but who's counting?) and countless County Extension offices have been telling you to do for decades.

But there's some research out of Michigan State University that indicates that light infrequent watering in the middle of the day is the best approach. I first heard about this listening to the Environment Report. The research is conducted at the Turfgrass Institute, and is covered in two different publications.

The guideline for the strategy is as follows:
  1. Determine how much water your lawn needs per week (typically 1-2 inches, but varies by grass type).
  2. Divide amount by seven.
  3. Figure out how much your irrigation system delivers in a specific period of time.
  4. Water your lawn for this period of time every day just at the beginning of the hottest period of day (around 2:00pm).
What this does is helps keep the grass cool, and only waters the fairly shallow area that grass roots actually grow in. There's no sense to watering a foot down when grass roots only grow down 2-3 inches.

We switched to this strategy a few weeks ago and have seen significant improvements in the lawn despite having had quite hot weather. According to the articles this should also save water over deep frequent watering. For us, I think it's a wash, but the lawn is greening up nicely. You would need a timer system for this to work. An in-ground sprinkler system is of course the best choice for this.

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