Watering your lawn, especially in the Tampa and Sarasota area, can be a tricky proposition. Too little water and your grass can become sun-scorched and die; too much and you will be dealing with rot, fungus or insects. Overwatering also encourages weed species such as dollarweed and sedges, and thatch will grow thick, choking your turf.
Through rainy seasons, droughts, and intense heat, making sure your lawn is properly (but not overly) hydrated is one of the best ways to make sure that you have the most beautiful property on the street. Here are s a few of our best tips to help you to get the water just right!
Watering Your Lawn
It is very common in this area to have an irrigation system, including sprinklers which are set on a timer, and duration for each zone is also dictated. While this seems like a great way to deliver consistent amounts of water to your lawn, it disregards an important fact. The Florida Gulf Coast may not have seasons like up north, but the changes in temperature do warrant that we alter our watering schedule to reflect the changing climate throughout the year. Here is a basic schedule for how often your lawn should be watered. Keep in mind that with over 50 inches of rainfall annually – mostly during the summer and fall months – your sprinklers may need to be turned off completely if the rainfall is keeping your lawn sufficiently watered.
Soil in this region is often very sandy and should be watered approximately 1/2″ to 3/4″ each time you water, in order to penetrate turfgrass roots and keep them healthy.
Typical Schedule for Watering:
Spring: 1-2 times per week
Summer: 2-3 times per week
Fall: 1-2 times per week
Winter: 1 time per week
Recognizing Drought Stress
During winter and early spring, the Sarasota and Tampa area often experiences drought conditions. You can be fairly certain your lawn needs more water if the leaf blades are turning blue-gray; the blades are folding over onto themselves, or footprints remain in the grass (without “springing” back) for more than a few seconds.
Additional Signs of Trouble
If you notice brown spots, dead patches, “oily” or slick grass, you will have to investigate as to what is causing them. For instance, while you may assume brown spots are caused from lack of water, it may be an insect infestation.
How to Measure Water Output
Now that you know how much water your lawn needs, how can you measure it? One easy way is to place several flat containers (like pie tins) around your yard when the sprinklers are running. After each zone is complete, check the water levels in the tin and adjust accordingly. You will want to test all zones, as a broken or malfunctioning sprinkler head is likely to disperse less water to certain parts of your lawn.
Other Factors to Consider
While the above guidelines are generally a good place to start, there are other variables to take into account when deciding the right watering protocols for your lawn. Different types of turf require more or less water – and the mowing height is also a factor. If you have recently fertilized, have compacted soil or too much shade, you may need to adjust the amount of water you utilize.
Finding just the right combination of mowing height and water consumption for your lawn may take some trial and error. Just keep a close eye on your lawn and adjust the amount of water you provide based on its health. Remember, it is best to water in the early morning hours, so that the water can penetrate down to the roots before evaporating in the heat.
For a beautiful lawn and garden, you can trust the experts and professional products – at Big Earth Landscape Supply of Tampa and Sarasota.