Nothing lives without it, and your lawn really needs it!
Water is one of the most mobile and abundant compounds on earth. Water is essential to life, and it’s the largest ingredient of almost every plant growing around your home. There are so many things moved (and removed) by water that it’s called the universal solvent. Let’s look at some of the reasons we’re always reminding you to water carefully What water does in the lawn Your lawn is between 75% and 85% water by weight. Water is the solvent by which the nutrients, organic compounds and gases enter and are moved through the plant. It protects the plants from sudden changes in temperature through its capacity for cooling, and it helps to keep grass cells turgid (or rigid), which makes the lawn more wear-tolerant. How water gets into the lawn Root absorption is the primary source of water for the plant. This occurs mainly through the root hairs. Water is absorbed first at shallow depths near the surface, and then from deeper in the soil as the water supply is depleted. Root hairs only live a few weeks, which makes continued root growth very important. A damaged root system may not be able to absorb the needed amount of water, even when plenty of water is available. Root depth is related to mowing height, which is one of reasons we often tell you to mow higher (so that your grass roots with grow deeper). Foliar absorption (through the leaves) accounts for only a very small amount of plant water intake. How much is enough?
There’s a continuous exchange of water between soil, turf plant and atmosphere. Only 1% to 3% of the water absorbed is used in the growth processes. The rest is lost in the form of water vapor being released through the pores located on the leaves and stems of the plants. This important process is called transpiration.
The amount required for plant growth, added to the amount lost by soil evaporation and the amount transpired by the plants, is called the water use rate. The use rate for most grass types is between 1/10” to 3/10” per day. The amount your lawn needs is affected by many factors, but 1” to 2” per week during the growing season is a good guide. Your lawn and landscape are part of the global water recycling process. Let’s work together to keep them beautiful and healthy all year long. Things to remember about proper watering You want to make every gallon count. These ideas will help:
- Build the roots. Do this by keeping the soil as open and porous as possible. Regular aeration of the soil, adding soil amendments (like compos or gypsum for clay), and regular root-building fertilization all help the roots to expand.
- Fix low areas that get waterlogged. Standing water will suffocate and kill the root hairs so vital to good water absorption. Install drainage or build up low areas to avoid standing water.
- Use drought-resistant varieties of grass and ornamentals. Some plants get by on much less water than others. Check with us if you’re unsure about what to plant.
- Use water wisely Water deeply (but not to the point of run-off), and use lower-pressure sprinklers to reduce vapor loss.
Ways to get the water where it’s needed
- Automatic in-ground systems make watering far easier to keep up with. Once programmed, they handle all of your watering needs. They do need to be adjusted occasionally but the initial cost is much less than some folks think.
- Drip systems work well in planting beds, and they also conserve moisture since so little is lost to evaporation.
- Hose timers can help when watering with a sprinkler and hose. Attached to the spigot, they can be set for the desired watering time then automatically shut off.