Keeping green grass through the drought, without over-watering

Keeping green grass through the drought, without over-watering

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - After a record dry May, much of southeastern North Carolina has been classified as being in a moderate drought. The soil may be a bit drier but for some of the grasses native to our region, a bit of a dry spell could help it thrive.

“People are watering everyday is a bad practice, heat stress is good for the grass,” says Tom Woods, turf grass expert with NC Cooperative Extension. “It sends roots deeper looking for water deep in the ground. When you water everyday the roots stay up to the top of soil because they get use to it.”

Turf specialists say that if you want to keep your grass green and healthy that you water deep and infrequent.

To water your lawn deep, means that you should keep your irrigation system in a certain zone on your lawn for 30 minutes to an hour at a time so it can penetrate down to the root. When watering for short intervals, the water only soaks in about half an inch to an inch.

“You don’t need to water your lawn everyday,” says Matt Martin with the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at N.C. State University. “What we saw for acceptable turf quality, for your grass to look good, not absolutely fabulous, it needs about an inch to about an inch and a half of water a week for survival.”

The first sign that grass is in need of water is the leaves start rolling and curling. After that, grass will start to get a purplish look to it. After these first two signs then your grass will begin to turn brown.

Another way to tell is to walk through the lawn and if footprints are left behind for an extended period of time, then you should turn on an irrigation system.

The best time to water your lawn is early in the morning. In the morning hours, there is a calmer wind along with less heat and sun intensity to make the water evaporate.

Watering in the late afternoon and in the evening hours could encourage lawns to contract disease.

“Most irrigation system we find are less than 70 percent efficient,” says Martin. “Meaning that 30 percent of the water is either evaporating or hitting a hard surface or hitting an unintended area for the irrigation.”

Ways to save money while irrigating is to go out and fine tune irrigation systems to make sure they aren’t watering surfaces like driveways, walkways, and areas where the water isn’t needed.

To learn more about certain grasses native to your yard, click here.

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