Lawn Tip – Overwatering

The lawn of a garden taken from a low level.

During the winter months of January and February it is important to keep lawn watering to a minimum.  According to research conducted at the University of Florida lawns don’t need to be watered as much during cooler months.

Over watering is the cause of many lawn problems. Under your sod the soil is composed of sand, silt, and clay particles. It is also composed of porous spaces. When it rains, water fills those porous spaces by pushing out the air. Too much watering fills those pores with water instead of oxygen, which is absolutely vital to healthy grass  plant growth. The roots of the sod will suffocate and die if they receive too much water. This leaves the grass plant with a very shallow root system.  When the roots of a grass plant die because of oxygen deprivation it stresses the entire plant and that makes the grass blades more susceptible to insect damage and disease,  Overwintering also encourages the growth of more resistant weeds among grass plants.

Watering wastes electricity as well as the water itself. Only water when absolutely necessary because ground water is a natural resource that we need to preserve as much as possible.   If you overwater a fertilized lawn you not only wash it off the roots of the grass plants, the runoff ends up polluting the ground water with nitrates.

Here are a few hints for determining if your lawn needs watering:

  • Grass blades take on a blue-gray appearance.
  • Individual blades of grass fold in half lengthwise on at least one-third of your yard.
  • When you walk on the grass footprints remain for several minutes instead of springing back quickly.

Experts recommend giving your lawn between one-half and three quarters of an inch of water every 10-14 days.  Consider skipping a week of watering during the months of January and February especially if you receive any significant rainfall during a two week period.  If you have an irrigation system with a timer you can simply turn the timer off for the week you plan to skip.

Remember that underwatering will not kill a lawn. Underwatering or drought will make a lawn go dormant but it will begin growing again after it receives rainfall.   On the other hand, over watering can literally suffocate your lawn and kill off your grass plants or weaken them to the point the lawn will die of pest infestations or disease.

So, water less but be alert to the signs of a thirsty lawn and water when necessary.

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