3 Basic Needs of a Healthy Gainesville Lawn: Water

One of my constant talking points is that a Gainesville lawn needs 3 main ingredients to thrive: water,  food, and sun.  If it has all three, grass will grow on concrete (not forever, but if it didn’t, we wouldn’t need edgers).  If you’re missing one of those three things the lawn won’t get any better regardless of what you do.  Today, I want to discuss the importance of water, or more importantly how you can tell if your lawn problem is water-related.

If your lawn developed brown spots last spring in the sunny areas, I’d venture to guess that your problem is water-related.  Most of the lawn issues we see in May and June are from the dry spells we experience.  These brown spots during droughts are generally caused by one of two things if you have a Gainesville Irrigation system:  Improper irrigation coverage or incorrect watering times. 

Imagine filling a gallon bucket with water and setting it out in your yard. When you check your bucket a week later, you’re going to find it still has water, but you’ve lost an inch or so from evaporation.  That’s what happens to your lawn and landscape plants if the evaporation isn’t replaced by rain and/or irrigation water. If you had the bucket of water in full sun, it would experience more evaporation than one in deep shade. Also, a bucket put out in summer would lose more to evaporation than one in winter. 
All of that is just to explain that drought stress is most prevalent in the sunny areas of your lawn and in the driest times of the year.  
 
How can you be sure it's drought stress? Good news! St. Augustine and Zoysia lawns are very easy to diagnose drought stress in. Both leaves have a midvein that acts as a “spine” for each individual blade of grass, allowing it to open and close as needed.  Healthy, well-watered grass blades will appear almost completely flat and totally open. When grass begins to dry out, the blade will close in half upon itself, to reduce its exposure to the sun and thus reduce its need for water. This will also give the grass a “hazy” look, as the backs of the blades are not as deep a green as the enclosed fronts.
 

In addition to making sure you get enough water on your lawn, it is just as important to not get too much as well. Ever heard the old saying about there being "Too much of a good thing?" This is the case with water too, especially in the shady areas of your lawn. Not allowing your Gainesville lawn to dry out (whether it's St. Augustine or Zoysia) will cause it to get what's commonly called 'brown patch fungus' and it will damage your lawn if not handled appropriately.

Three Quick Tips to Avoid Over or Under Watering Your Lawn:

  1. Run your irrigation early in the morning. I set mine to start at 4AM. 
  2. Run your Rotor or Rotator Zones for about 45 minutes. Shrub/Ornamental zones can be set to 25 (deeper root systems).
  3. Run your irrigation twice per week from March - November, per Alachua County Code. 

If you have questions or concerns about your lawn, call (352) 378-5296, email me at info@themasterslawncare.com or fill out our contact form for more information.

Resources (click the links below):

How to Program Your Irrigation Timer Settings

University of Florida 'Watering Your Lawn' Information

1st Basic Need of a Lawn: Sun

3rd Basic Need of a Lawn: Food

Video Blog: Side by Side lawn comparison 

TMLC Lawn Care Program: Six Visits explained 

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