Determine proper soil moisture. Ideal soil moisture is not dusty, nor is it saturated. Ideal soil moisture will be damp immediately after irrigation; however, the soil will start to become dry (the top 1/4" 1/3") just before receiving water. Light moss or a muddy texture are indicators that the soil is consistently too wet.

    1. Check bare areas in your field. The surface soil should be dry to a depth of about " with moist soil underneath.

    2. Avoid having the surface soil constantly wet.

    3. The best time to check the soil moisture is before the irrigation is set to start.

    4. A soil probe or a shovel is another important soil check. Carefully lift the sod to a depth of 6". Ideally soil should be moist the entire depth with the same degree of moisture. I often use my fingers to check the top 2".

  Watch for signals the grass is sending you! Adjusting your water schedule to meet the turfs needs will avoid situations which slow its growth, waste water, and encourage weedy/unwanted weed grasses.

  Drought stress is the result of the turf plant drying out and loosing its resiliency When the plants dehydrate, the turf will have a dry or "crunchy" feeling. Footprints will not spring back after walking on it. Another clue of drought stress is indicated by the color of the grass. This can happen as quickly as an afternoon! Turf will loose its green color and turn a blue or gray color. Advanced stages of drought stress will cause your grass to turn brown.

  Over watering is to be avoided because it reduces the amount of oxygen in the soil, cools the soil (a negative situation early in the season) and discourages deep rooting of grasses. Poa Annua thrives in excessive water situations while desirable turf is weakened.

  Length of time to water. There is no constant answer to this question. Beyond specific site conditions (clay vs. sandy soils, etc.), factors that influence the amount of water needed are:

   1. How long has it been since it last rained?

    2. What was the amount of water received from that rain?

    3. How hot has it been? (As temperatures rise, the need for water increases).

    4. How windy has it been? (Wind evaporates moisture, even when the temperature drops).

    5. How humid has it been? (Humid conditions reduce the amount of water needed.)

Time of day to water.

bulletBEST TIME: 4:00 6:00 A.M. (Done by 10:00 A.M.)

This time is best because it is the coolest part of the day. Watering in the morning cleanses pants of dew, (and city water systems are at their highest pressures).

bulletPOOREST TIME: 12:00 6:00 P.M.

This is the hottest time of day and loss of water through evaporation is at its greatest. Watering during this time can actually be unhealthy for your turf. The only exception to this rule is called a "syringe cycle". This practice is intended to cool the plant when the temperatures are above 85 degrees and times should not exceed 5 minutes per zone.



  Height of Cut. For our area and type of grass, 2 " 3" is good for maximum health of the grass plants.

At this length, the grass will be more stress tolerant.

It will be able to create a higher level of carbohydrates.

If cutting height is too low, the root system is reduced and the grass takes up smaller amounts of water and nutrients.

  Mowing Frequency. A general "rule of thumb" is never to remove more than 1/3 of the total leaf surface at any one mowing. This may require mowing 2-3 times a week in the spring and summer.

If more than 1/3 of the leaf is removed, the grass may be stressed.

Scalping can also occur, which will cause your grass to turn brownish or yellowish because all that remains are the stemmy parts of the plant. If an area is scalped too frequently, the grass may die.

If because of wet weather or vacation and your grass gets quite tall, it is better to raise the height of cut so as not to whack back the grass too much. Then reduce the cutting height and mow again in a day or two. Removing too much at one cutting can "shock" the grass and cause browning especially in hot weather.

Clipping Removal. Excessive accumulation of clippings from infrequent mowing may shade and smother the grass if not removed promptly. When turf is mowed frequently (with less than 1/3 of the leaf cut), clippings can be left on the lawn.

Mowing different directions. It is important to mow in different mowing patterns each time. This stands turf up straight in addition to creating a sharp appearance.

Mowing after topdressing. When your seedlings start to grow, it is necessary to mow; however, the soil cannot be excessively wet (muddy). Watch for situations where the mower causes wheel damage and rutting. If the existing grass around the new seedlings becomes to long, it will shadow the new grass and stunt growth.


I hope this helps to answer some of your questions and concerns.

If you should notice any conditions in your fields that you are not sure about, just give me a call. I will be more than happy to discuss your lawn maintenance.


Good Luck!

Matt Heiss

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