5 Tips to Help Your Lawn Beat the Dry Spell

We’ve gotten a number of calls from customers asking questions about how to improve their lawn's appearance in the North Florida dry spell. Lawns are struggling from drought stress in any area that gets sun exposure, landscape plants are beginning to wilt, and you're already watering with your sprinkler system. What can you do?

Until we begin to get normal rainfall, here are some watering tips. Notice that these tips are beyond the basics of watering early in the morning, follow the 2 day per week schedule (unless you have new sod or plants), and put down an inch of water. These tips are specifically the dry spells we have come accustomed to a couple times a year in Gainesville landscapes. These tips need to be reveresed after normal rainfall begins as you could create problems with overwatering and fungus when the dry spell ends. 

  • Use the Seasonal Adjust function -On most irrigation controllers installed in the past decade, there is an option called "seasonal adjust" that has a percent in it (typically it is left at 100%). Increasing this to 150% is a simple and quick way to adjust up in dry/hot seasons and down (50-60%) in cold/wet seasons. Please note this function only increases your time of watering per zone, and not your amount of days. (For example, a zone that is set to run 30 minutes would be set to run 150% of it's set time, or 45 minutes, during the dry spell. Then, if you set it to 50% for the winter, it would only run half the normal time, or 15 minutes)
  • Creatively Obey the Rules - Watering 2 times a week in a severe dry spell in full sun exposure will rarely keep your Gainesville grass healthy, but there isn't a rule that says you can only water your lawn 2 times a week. The code says you can only water your lawn 2 days per week, and only during the morning or evening. Let's say your address is an even number, so your watering days are Thursday and Sunday. You could water early in the morning on Thursday (around 5am) and then late in the evening again on Thursday (around 10pm). Repeating this on Sunday would allow you to reduce your time between waterings from 3 days to 2, and severely limit the amount of stress on your Gainesville grass.
  • Apply "Moisture Manager" to your Lawn and Landscape- This is something I highly recommend for Zoysia lawns that get so drought stressed in our dry spells! Moisture Manager (click this link to watch a video) allows your soil to hold more moisture around the plant's roots due to it's microscopic water-absorption technology, and saves you on your GRU water bill. This is commonly called Hydretain by other companies in town, but it works really well to increase your waterings effectiveness. 
  • Use Soak Cycles - This is something we all should use year-round, but they are difficult to set up on irrigation timers that aren't Hunter's Hydrawise Smart Controllers . These soak zones break a normal zone zycle (for example, a zone set to run for 60 minutes) into 4 seperate 15-minute cycles with a 10-20 minute break between each one. What does this do? It allows the water to soak in, rather than puddle up and run off down the driveway, and down the front curb. This is a great tip we use for watering lawns on slopes, but it really works well for most all Gainesville Florida lawns. 
  • Inspect your irrigation system - This one is a fundamental tip, but you would be amazed how many lawns struggle in speceific areas during the dry season because of lack of adjustments as plants grew, trees developed, and the irrigation needs shifted - but the system didn't. Checking your irrigation system twice a year will help you avoid those "hot spots" where they always dry out in the heat of the year.

We hope these tips are helpful for you during this dry season! If we can be of help with your Gainesville, Florida sprinkler system, Lawn Pest Control (Gainesville Chinch Bugs LOVE dry lawns!) or Landscape Managment, please give us a call at (352) 378-5296 or email us at info@themasterslawncare.com