The hotter than usual summer weather in the Treasure Valley has caused major stresses to our lawns. These hot temperatures shattered the current record of consecutive days over 100 degrees measured at the Boise Airport. It was also the hottest June ever in Boise.
This hot weather without proper watering will turn a green lawn into a crispy brown lawn in no time. Like any plant, turf will react to the high temperatures and lack of water with browning, wilting and even possibly death.
If your turf is turning brown here are some things to look for:
- Lightly pull up the grass. If it pulls up easily from the soil and is not properly rooted, it’s likely brown from drought stress
- Push a soil probe or screw driver into the brown and green areas of turf. If the probe goes into the soil easily in green areas and will not penetrate into brown areas, the soil is dry.
- Stand back and look over the entire lawn. When you suspect drought, brown spots appear randomly and in rough patterns. Turf near a sprinkler head may be green, while turf away from the head is brown. This would lead you to assume poor sprinkler coverage or a broken/plugged nozzle.
- Other signs of drought stress are footprints on grass after its walked on, a grayish casting or darker color and even wilting of grass blades.
During hot, dry conditions lawns can go into summer dormancy without proper watering.
To achieve the best lawn possible, proper watering techniques are a necessity throughout the year. Lawns have a minimum water requirement and any quantity less than the minimum amount, limits the vigor and health of the grass. Obviously during high temperatures, the water necessity increases dramatically for turf. An aeration will also increase water penetration, mitigate soil compaction, rapid runoff, and will promote deeper rooting, all of which will help use water more efficiently.
Amount of Water: For best results, your turf needs to receive 1.5″ of water, each time your sprinklers run. If your turf receives 1.5″ of water each watering cycle, that will moisten the soil to a depth of 5 to 7 inches. Making sure your water reaches a depth of 5 to 7 inches encourages deeper roots, and better turf vigor. When temperatures are above 90 degrees, a pop up sprinkler zone should run 30 to 45 minutes, and in temperatures around 75 degrees, the same pop up sprinkler zone should run for 15 to 20 minutes.
Frequency: Depending on soil and weather conditions, your lawn should be watered 1 to 3 times per week during the spring and fall, and when temperatures are above 90 degrees, your lawn needs to be watered 4 to 5 days per week. Depending on the capabilities of your sprinkler system your lawn may need to be watered 6 to 7 days per week during hot weather, if you do not have head to head sprinkler coverage.
Best times to water: The most effective watering time is during the early morning hours. This conserves water that would evaporate if you were to water later in the day, but also allows your turf to dry before evening. Turf that remains wet for long periods of time is more susceptible to disease development.