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Old 07-31-2008, 10:34 PM   #1
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Am I watering the correct amount?


Back in May we finally got our yard sodded (new construction, had been dirt for the previous 6 months). Since then we've had quite a time trying to keep it looking nice between our dogs killing the grass (urine), some of the sod not rooting, and then some of it just dying off in huge chunks.

I know the solution (or lack of) to the dog problem and then I know I just need to either replace or seed the dead splotches.

But what I'm wanting to make sure of is that I'm watering it in the correct manner/amount.

Some basic info:
Location: Denver, CO
Weather: It's been in the high 90's for close to a month with little rain
Watering/sprinkler schedule: ~18 minutes once per day (morning around 8AM)
Grass type: Kentucky Bluegrass

Is that the right length of time? Should we be doing it that often or more? We're just sort of lost with what to do to watering wise.

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Old 08-01-2008, 05:55 PM   #2
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Am I watering the correct amount?


I'm sure in Texas we have different types of grasses. But any grass that stays from year to year should be watered more time and less frequency. The roots need to go deeper so they will not dry out on the surface. The roots will dig in deeper trying to reach the moister soil. It will also help sod grasses winter better because the roots will not be as vulnerable. Dig a hole at edge of brown and check for grub worms (get a lot of June Bugs up your way?) and chinch bugs. If you see small white moths fluttering at ground level, you might have lawn moths. Then there are lawn fungii. Too much surface moisture will promote this and it usually shows up in a circular (roughly) pattern. Put little condiment cups around your yard and see how long it takes to get about 1 1/2 " and that will tell you if all areas are getting good water and let you know how long to water. Water about every 3 days if it is really hot and dry. Most grasses will let you know when they need water. Their little blades will close up slightly or there will be a slight color change. Sandy soil is a different story. Right before it is time to water again, dig a little test hole with a hand trowel and see if soil is still moist 3"-4" down. If so, don't water yet.
Good luck.

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Old 08-01-2008, 06:31 PM   #3
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Am I watering the correct amount?


Im in alabama and trying to get a new lawn going too, mine from seed though. Watering heavy and less frequent is good advice especially on sod. Just dont let the water run off to much or your just wasting it. Most lawn care pros say you need 1" a week for a healthy lawn if you can afford the water bill. I got alot of info and help on this site.
http://www.lawncafe.com/indexmain.php
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Old 08-01-2008, 06:59 PM   #4
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Am I watering the correct amount?


Quote:
But any grass that stays from year to year should be watered more time and less frequency. The roots need to go deeper so they will not dry out on the surface. The roots will dig in deeper trying to reach the moister soil.
Yep, that about says it!

If you re-sod (I presume), keep the new sod very well watered the first several days, every day. This differs from the previous post with this caveat, my experience is mainly with bermuda sod or fescue and rye seeding. Other than that, I believe Sasha and I are on the same page. Do not let those precious few roots dry out. This may mean twice a day in 90's temps. Remember there are very few roots, kind of like a 2 gallon gas tank on your car.

After about 5-7 days you should be able to see fresh roots in the bottom of the sod if you GENTLY lift some of it. In the meantime, the soil under the sod should be damp from the watering in order to encourage rooting there- "The roots will dig in deeper trying to reach the moister soil." I doubt that your 18 minutes will accomplish that. My experience with an "average" lawn sprinkler is about an hour.

"Put little condiment cups around your yard and see how long it takes to get about 1 1/2 " and that will tell you if all areas are getting good water and let you know how long to water." Cut back your watering to less often but a good soaking to keep the soil moist. I really think that one inch is plenty at this point for a couple of weeks yet. Check after about two weeks, you should feel some resistance to a gentle tug. VIOLA! So far, so good. No need to be pulling on roots any more.

Quote:
Right before it is time to water again, dig a little test hole with a hand trowel and see if soil is still moist 3"-4" down. If so, don't water yet.
There you go! Once everything is rooted in, just maintain it.
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Old 08-01-2008, 10:25 PM   #5
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Am I watering the correct amount?


Same rules apply with urine as fertilizer. Dog urine contains high levels of nitrogen, which causes grass to become greener. Under certain conditions (such as heat or drought stress) the nitrogen may actually burn the grass, causing it to die and leave a bare spot in the lawn. This type of reaction is similar to the damage caused by an over application of fertilizer. The excess nitrogen in the soil causes the plant to give off moisture rather than absorbing it, and if the area is not watered thoroughly, the grass may die. If the areas are already dead, they will have to be removed and reseeded. Damage can usually be avoided or lessened by watering these areas thoroughly to dilute the concentration of nitrogen in the area.

I agree with previous post about new sod. The newer the sod the more frequent and actually less time since the water can stay at the top level where the roots are.
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Old 08-01-2008, 10:38 PM   #6
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Am I watering the correct amount?


Just for clarification here, my question isn't so much about how to fix the dead spots or anything like that. I'm really just wanting to know what my watering schedule should be.
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Old 08-01-2008, 11:35 PM   #7
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Am I watering the correct amount?


Call your local college ag dept. They can give the best info for your area. You shouldn't have to water daily at this point.
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Old 08-02-2008, 09:56 AM   #8
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Am I watering the correct amount?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shpigford View Post
Some basic info:
Location: Denver, CO
Weather: It's been in the high 90's for close to a month with little rain
Watering/sprinkler schedule: ~18 minutes once per day (morning around 8AM)
Grass type: Kentucky Bluegrass

Is that the right length of time? Should we be doing it that often or more? We're just sort of lost with what to do to watering wise.
What kind of heads do you have on each zone, are the heads all the same on each zone? That will determine how long each zone needs to run.

There are calculations that can be done to provide specific settings for each season and they are determined by head and nozzle size.

I would strongly suggest what others mentioned, scatter 3-5 condiment cups along one zone. Run the zone long enough for 1-1.5 inches of water to fill the cup. Take the time it took to fill it and divide by the number of days you want to water (like others said longer run times and less frequency is best) I would recomend 3-4 days per week.

You could/should repeat this process on each zone because the coverage is rarely the same.

At a minimum do it on 1 pop up zone and 1 rotor zone...pop-ups generally place more water in a smaller space (lower run times) and rotors cover a larger area (longer run times)

Hope it helps

EDIT

To help get you on the right track until you can do the condiment cup test here is a general rule of thumb, note its not exact, is average and should not be taken as fact

pop ups 10-15m 4 days per week
Rotors 25-35m 4 days per week

Last edited by swade; 08-02-2008 at 10:01 AM.
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Old 08-02-2008, 03:14 PM   #9
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Am I watering the correct amount?


Quote:
then I know I just need to either replace or seed the dead splotches.
But what I'm wanting to make sure of is that I'm watering it in the correct manner/amount.
Quote:
Just for clarification here, my question isn't so much about how to fix the dead spots or anything like that. I'm really just wanting to know what my watering schedule should be.
Watering schedule for what you planted in May or what your watering schedule would be for now if you make re-sodding/re-seeding repairs? I think most folks were thinking you were asking about the latter.

As mentioned above, your local college ag dept or county Extension Service can give you watering needs for your lawn in your area. I/we in the south don't grow bluegrass so we can only give you "bestimates." I wish someone in your area would post. In addition to the commonly used practice of setting out several containers in which to measure the irrigation, I would suggest checking at your local garden center for a $10 moisture meter. Not the moisture/light/pH but just one to check the soil moisture. They are not lab quality, but will give you a reading on basically a 1-10 scale and it won't be too hard to figure where you are. One hint would be to take a small container about the size of a one gallon nursery pot, a gallon milk jug, etc, and fill it with soil. Water it really, really well and then check it with the meter and you will know what "wet" reads on that particular meter. If the soil was really dry before starting, check it then and you will have a good, practical guess what a certain reading actually means compared to what the soil felt like.
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Last edited by downunder; 08-02-2008 at 03:51 PM. Reason: omission
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Old 08-14-2008, 03:14 PM   #10
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Am I watering the correct amount?


Dixie cups are cheap and plentiful, and a great way to know. You should have about 1" of water in the cup and you'll know you have enough. (Scattering lots of cups around helps you figure out which sections are getting over- or under-watered.)

New sod/seed, is obviously different...needs to stay moist. But established yards shouldn't get more than, say, 1" of water per week....and it's best if that happens in one or two occurences per week. More than that and you get shallow roots that make the lawn very weak and dependent on all the water.
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Old 08-14-2008, 06:22 PM   #11
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Am I watering the correct amount?


Shpigford

Overlooked this question early on, but are you watering with a #Mart sprinkler, or do you have an irrigation system installed? If the latter, your contractor should be able to give you more accurate guidelines as to how much your system puts out per hour, etc.

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