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Homemade Lawn Irrigation System

Author : Lincoln Nader

Quite remarkably, up to 80% of the water used during the summer time can be used outdoors for watering. In many cases, lawn owners use too much water on their lawns, resulting in waste. Finding the right balance of water usage can lend to a better looking lawn while at the same time conserve water.

Understanding Your Lawn:

If you walk across the lawn and notice that the footprints remain there for several hours, the ground may be dry. Well watered grass will spring back up to normal position very quickly.
Widespread browning of the grass indicates that water has not been applied for some time. The root system will most likely stay alive and enter a dormant state. If a regular water regimen is started, the grass will begin growing again. In some cases the grass will not be able to come out of its dormant state and will die.
During the summer time, standard watering procedure is to give the lawn 1 inch of water every 2-3 weeks. While the grass may not be as green as it could be with this amount of water, it is a good balance between aesthetics and water conservation.

Over-application can cause a condition known as wet wilt. Wet wilt is caused when the soil is very wet, but the roots are not able to soak the water up fast enough. This starves the roots system of oxygen. No additional water should be added at this time- let the ground dry to the proper level first. Physical signs of wet wilt include curling of the blades.

Drought Preparation:

Preparing your lawn for the summer season can make it stronger and more tolerant in the future. To do this, the roots should be as deep and vibrant as possible. This way, the grass will be able to harvest water deep from the ground and be much less reliant on irrigation and lawn watering frequency will be reduced.

Don't irrigate right at the start of spring in an attempt to give your lawn a boost. The seed should be allowed to appear on its own. Mow the grass on a regular basis to keep the new sprouts at the proper height. When turf wilt is spotted for over a day, you can begin irrigation / sprinkler use. Since springtime is not rough on grass, letting it wilt short time is just fine.

The added benefit of letting the ground dry in the spring is to strengthen the root system. The lack of water forces the roots to penetrate deeply in search of an alternative water supply.

Mow your lawn at a minimum of 2.5 inches tall, never less than this. The longer the blades, the more protection the lawn will have against summer heat. You want to create a thick cover which shades the ground and reduces evaporation. Frequency of mowing should be done so that the cut blades are between 1-1.5 inches long. Always use a sharp blade to prevent tearing the ends of the blades.

Use nitrogen fertilizer in the fall with any cool season grasses. Nitrogen fertilizer can be spread in the fall if the lawn is in poor condition (i.e. brown spots, bare soil). Summer application should be avoided, as the fertilizer causes leaf growth and not root growth.

Use a soil test kit to determine the levels of potassium and phosphorous. In April and May/June, application of these chemicals can be done to maintain the proper levels.

Use an aerator once a year on the entire lawn. Spring/fall is the best time to do this since the grass is experiencing a growth spurt during this time. Lawn aeration allows the roots to spread out and receive additional oxygen, hydration and nutrition. A rolling lawn aerator can make this step easy.

As with aerating, thatch removal should be done in the spring/fall only, as it causes stress. If a lawn is well maintained, only light thatch removal should be needed. If severe thatch removal is necessary, perform the removal in September.

Certain species of grass need less water than others during the summer. Select low-maintenance species to reduce water consumption.
How Much Water?

This is the big question- how much water should you apply to your lawn and how often? Since every watering system is set up differently, yard owners should take the time to calculate how many inches of water their system produces in a set timeframe. To do this, set a small container such as a cup onto the lawn in the spray pattern. Measure the height of the water from the bottom of the cup to the water line. If you measured 0.1 inches in 15 minutes, your system outputs 0.4 inches per hour. Take a look at this equation:

(Insert Inches)/(Insert minutes) * 60 minutes = Inches/Hour

Most lawns grow well with a 1 inch / week lawn watering schedule, although dryer areas like Arizona can require more. Hose sprinklers need to be moved to a new location after the desired amount of water has been applied. Some hose powered lawn watering systems can deliver a large amount of water in a short amount of time, so use a timer to keep track.

The Best Time to Water

Greater water pressure exists in the morning hours because not as many people are using their water lines. Set your automatic timer to water in the morning for best results. Also, the sun is not present to evaporate the water as it is applied. Avoid watering in the wind as it will blow the water streams off course.

If puddles or runoff is detected, the watering time should be decreased (or in the case of a hose sprinkler, should be moved to the next spot). Areas like slopes which do not absorb water well can be tended by hand.

Author's Resource Box

How about looking at this Scarecrow Sprinkler for a quality lawn.

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Tags:   lawn irrigation systems, lawn sprinklers, lawn watering, lawn and garden

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Submitted : 2011-04-02    Word Count : 870    Times Viewed: 672