Wednesday, April 22, 2009


As you certainly have heard by now, SAWS has declared stage one water restrictions and we can only legally water once per week. This time of year that is not all that stressful on our grasses. If we are still watering once per week after summer is here with daily highs of 95 degrees, that will be a concern for certain grasses in certain situations, such as St Augustine grass in the full sun. Bermuda grass and Zoysia grass are less affected in the long term by the drought. This is because both of these grasses have under ground stems called rhizomes. In a bad drought the leaves and above ground stems may all die, but as soon as a good rain comes, the underground stems or rhizomes will send up new growth. St Augustine has no rhizomes and when it looks dead it probably is dead.

What can I do to survive the restrictions?
  1. Your water day starts at mid-night, so set you clock to do a mid-night cycle and the set it for a early morning cycle, such as 6 am. Using two start times is a good way to allow applied water to soak in. For example, two 10 minutes cycles separated by a few hours will do more good than one 20 minute cycle that starts to run off after 10 minutes due to the slow rate at which our heavy clay soils accept water. This idea is easy to use with small systems because you do not need to worry about how long it takes to finish the cycle. The last cycle on your water day must finish by 10 am. However, even if you have a large system that needs from mid-night to 10 am to finish, you can benefit from this idea. Just divide you run times by 2 and set the clock to do 2 half cycles in stead of one long cycle.
  2. Create strong roots by proper mowing height and mowing frequency and never remove more than one-third of the plant in one mowing. For example, if the grass is 3 inches tall, do not cut below 2 inches. This will mean weekly mowing when the grass is growing or mowing at taller mowing height.
  3. Apply compost and or aerate the yard for strong roots
  4. Proper fertilizer applications for strong roots.
  5. Hand watering is legal in stage one at any time on any day. After your water day passes you will see certain areas wilt stress quicker than others. Give those areas some water with the hose. This is a great way to save water as you put the water only on the part of the yard that needs it, not the whole yard.