Summer is once again off to a dry start and NWI is already experiencing drought conditions. Just as your lawn comes out of dormancy and begins to recover, nature throws your grass a curveball with near-drought conditions. The only real solution for a healthy lawn is to replenish the nutrients (fertilizer) and water correctly. In this article, you’ll discover The Experts Guide to Watering your Lawn in Northwest Indiana.
When it comes to your lawn, watering correctly is critical. With the help of Steve Daly and Perma-Green’s inside support team, you’ll discover general watering tips for a healthy lawn. You’ll find tips for watering the different soil types most commonly found in the region. You’ll also discover best practices for watering new sod and tips for watering seedlings.
Finally, as a bonus just below this article, you’ll discover some links to helpful lawn care and watering tools. From real-time rain forecasts, soil maps, lawn care tips, and a professional-grade lawn tool called the GDDTracker, you’ll have access to some of the best lawn care support tools on your phone or PC.
Lawn Dormancy Defined | Time to Start Watering!
According to Perma-Green’s inside support team, “the whole northern tier of Lake, Porter, and Laporte counties were listed as moderate to severe drought conditions as of June 23rd. This is according to NOAA. With very little rain, you can assume your lawn is starting to show signs of dormancy. In fact, your lawn may have already hit this plateau.”
“Dormancy is when the grass plant draws moisture from the blades down into the roots to protect itself during drought, causing lawns to appear yellow/brown and dry.”
Since your grass plant is 85% water, Perma-Green recommends you begin a regular deep watering program immediately!
NWI’s Best Lawn Services Won’t Treat Your Lawn without this!
According to Perma-Green’s Steve Daly, “the issue is compounded by the past few years of near-drought conditions in Northwest Indiana. The repeated and sustained damage we have experienced over the last 3 years can eventually have severe repercussions on your lawn’s health.”
Daly believes best practice solutions should be customized to the condition and requirements of each individual lawn. While Perma-Green believes having a great lawn is as simple as regular watering and applying the right full-season weed and feed plan, everything changes when a lawn is stressed from drought.
Without proper watering, everything changes! In fact, Perma-Green adapts or varies customers’ lawn treatment plans when it doesn’t have some form of irrigation, whether it’s automatic or manual.
The Watering Guide offers Solutions for Different Conditions
The Perma-Green Guide to Watering in NWI is a useful tool for helping you know how much you should water, however, factors such as soil type, lawn condition, and history are considered. The guide’s effectiveness is improved with known factors. For example, the right watering practice for clay would hardly meet the requirements for sand-based soil.
Northwest Indiana is a mosaic of soil types that were transported here over thousands of years by either Ice Age glaciers or waterways. Visit your town’s community page and check out your area’s soil composition map.
For years, I struggled with my Valparaiso lawn, only to learn later that my front yard had topsoil brought in while my back yard was pure clay. I spent twenty years trying to grow grass in my clay soil. That all changed when I discovered Perma-Green could treat my lawn for the same price as doing it myself. While I will admit I started working with Perma-Green because it was economical, I’ll stay with them because they made my lawn the best on the block!
Guide to Watering Lawn
It’s not just whether you water your grass that makes a difference. It’s also how you water.
Sprinkling your lawn with water every day doesn’t help! That will only dampen the surface of your lawn. The water won’t get to your root system, where it is critically needed. Instead, water each area of the yard deeply, enough so the water soaks deep enough to reach your lawn’s root system. It should be noted that you want the equivalent of 1.5 inches of rain to soak 4-12 inches below the lawn’s surface. This will establish longer and healthier roots.
When the water only soaks the surface area, your root system will grow near the surface, which leaves your grass susceptible to heat damage. This is why watering in sand is very different from best-practice watering in clay. Because water soaks into the sand without resistance, it takes less watering to reach the desired depth in comparison to clay.
Dry conditions are even harder on new plants than they are on established plants, The Perma-Green Watering Guide offers general recommendations for watering grass seedlings and new sod. You’ll also find suggestions for watering sloped or compact areas. The NWI Watering Guide also has a few recommendations for watering dormant grass.
How to Water Grass with Clay Soil
You want to water 1 time per week (every 5-7 days) for a total of 1 ½ inches of water In Each Area per week. This type of watering practice should provide 4 to 6 inches of soil moisture depth. The length of time per watering is based on your water pressure output. If you do not have a rain gauge, you may use any type of catch container (tin can) to get a measurement. It is always best to water for longer periods of time and less frequent. You want to replicate 1 good rainfall each week. Early mornings (between 4 a.m. & 8 a.m.) are the best time to water.
How to Water Grass with Sandy Soil
Same as with clay soils, you want to water a total of 1 ½ inches of water In Each Area per week. However, with porous sandy soils, you need to water a little more frequently (every 3 days) at about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch. This will provide about 6 inches of soil depth per watering. The length of time per watering is based on your water pressure output. If you do not have a rain gauge, you may use any type of catch container (tin can) to get a measurement. Early mornings (between 4 a.m. & 8 a.m.) are the best time to water.
How to Water Grass with Loam Soil
You want to water 1 time per week (every 5 days) for a total of 1 ½ inches of water In Each Area per week. The length of time per watering is based on your water pressure output. If you do not have a rain gauge, you may use any type of catch container (tin can) to get a measurement. It is always best to water for longer periods of time and less frequent. You want to replicate 1 good rainfall each week. Early mornings (between 4 a.m. & 8 a.m.) are the best time to water.
How to Water New Seedings
A newly seeded lawn will need to be watered 2-4 times per day – the seedbed should be moistened to a depth of 1-2 inches but not saturated. As the seed germinates and seedlings begin to grow, it is essential that the new seedlings are not allowed to dry out. Continue to water 2-4 times per day if the weather conditions are dry. When the seedlings reach 2 inches in height, gradually start to reduce the frequency of watering and water more deeply. After the new turf has been mowed 2-3 times, deep & infrequent watering should be practiced. Follow watering guidelines for your soil conditions.
How to Water New Sod
A newly sodded lawn will require water 1 or 2 times per day. Sod should be watered so that the sod strip is wet the entire thickness and the soil underneath is moist to the depth of 1 inch. Overwatering sod is a common mistake. Do not saturate the soil below the sod. This will inhibit roots from growing into the soil. As sod becomes established and roots penetrate and grow, gradually reduce the frequency of watering but wet the soil to a greater depth. After the sod has been mowed 3-4 times, deep & infrequent watering should be practiced. Follow watering guidelines for your soil conditions.
How to Water Grass on Sloped or Compacted Areas
Slopes or areas with soil compaction are often difficult to irrigate without water run-off. In these areas, it is important not to apply water faster than it can be absorbed. One possible method is to irrigate a slope for a period of time until the water just begins to run off and then stops. Allow the water to infiltrate into the soil and then water the area again until run-off just begins. Repeat this cycle several times until the soil is wet to a depth of 6 inches.
How to Water Dormant Grass
In extended droughts where a lawn is not watered, the lawn will wilt and the leaves will turn brown. These lawns are not dead; the turf is in a dormant condition. Dormancy is a natural survival mechanism of the turf plant. The leaves shut down at the crown (growing point) and the root system remains alive. The grass plant loses water through its leaves. When the leaves go dormant, little water is lost which conserves water. This allows the crown and root system to remain alive. Turf can survive 4-6 weeks in a dormant condition without a significant thinning of turf. If the drought continues without relief, the crowns may start to turn black (dieback), and the turf may require revitalization.
The grass plant is 85% water – Proper Watering and Mowing on the highest setting (min. 3 inches) plays a huge factor in the health of your lawn!
How to Check if You’ve Watered Enough!
Apply about as much water as 1.5 inches of rain a week. You can time how long your sprinkler or sprinkler system takes to deliver that much water by placing a straight-sided container under the spray and letting it fill to a 1.5-inch depth. If you deliver the equivalent of 1 to 2 inches of rain, the water will soak your lawn’s root system without concerns of causing fungus issues or wasting water.
If you dig down a couple of inches and the soil feels dry, or even if the surface feels dry and hard, it’s time to water. You can water different sections of your lawn each day. This will assure each section gets a deep soak several days a week.
Special thanks to Steve Daly and his Perma-Green inside support team. From writing this article to calling Perma-Green about my lawn care services, it’s welcoming to have either Cassie, Courtney or Joy answer the phone with enthusiasm. These ladies know their stuff and are happy to help!
When you need help, you don’t need an automated phone system, you need a lawn care expert. Give them a call!
Written by Jim Jano Janesheski
Perma-Green’s Community Pages have Lawn Tips, Forecasts, and the GDDTracker
You’ll also find other useful pages on the Perma-Green website. The Lawn Care Packages Page offers a simple chart of what is included in each PG Lawn Care Program. If you want to learn more about selecting the right plan based on best-practice lawn care, you’ll love the page called, Weed & Feed | Selecting the Right Plan.
This page is my favorite. It covers month-by-month lawn maintenance and which lawn care programs can help you achieve your goals. There are also pages with monthly maintenance summaries for new homeowners and numerous informative blogs!
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