To help keep grass alive, green and healthy, water daily [UPDATED]Published 6:53am Monday, August 6, 2012 Updated 11:57am Monday, August 6, 2012
“Bunkey, you get out there and water that grass. What will the neighbors think when the only green in our lawn is weeds. I don’t care if it does raise our water bill!” Bunkey is tighter than skin on a grape when it comes to watering grass. His philosophy is let it turn brown, it will get green when we get rain.
”But just look at that lawn down the block. It’s green and lush as velvet,” Petunia exclaimed.
“He has built in sprinklers, a lawn service, more money than Romney and I’ve seen him trimming around his trees with a scissors” was Bunkey’s answer. “We don’t have any of those three things”. But to keep peace in the house, he did get the sprinkler going, then went next door to George’s for coffee and some watering tips.
This is what he learned. Maintaining a typical Kentucky bluegrass lawn in an actively green and growing state during the hot and dry months of July and August will require 1 to 1.5 inches of water a week, including rain.
If you can tolerate some browning, that can be cut to half to three-fourths inch a week to 10 days. This is just enough moisture to permit the spreading stems and growing points of grass to be able to resprout and start growing again when the conditions moderate.
Yes, you can let it go completely brown, giving it an inch of water every two to three weeks.
This should help keep just enough water in the plant so that it can start growing later in the summer. However, if it stays hot and dry, this little bit of water can push even well-prepared grass over the edge and result in some permanent dieback.
To keep your lawn alive, you may need to water more often than usual to keep the grass alive.
Try to keep traffic off stressed lawns. They are much more vulnerable to serious injury and dieback from normal wear and tear under water and heat stress conditions.
Whatever you do, don’t fertilize your lawn when it is stressed. It will only stress it more and probably burn up what little green is showing.
Since the only green in the lawn is weeds, it is very tempting to arm yourself with weed killer and commit weedicide. Don’t do it. Stressed grass is much more susceptible to injury from weed killers. Even though the weeds look like they are thumbing their noses at you, they too are under stress and not actively growing so the weed killer doesn’t do a heck of a lot. Wait until fall when plants are starting to get ready for winter by pulling food into their roots. That is the best time to not only kill weeds but to fertilize grasses. All the food (grass) or poison (weeds) goes right to the roots.
Thicker grass roots result in a better lawn in the spring. Fertilizer companies tell you to fertilize your lawn four times a year. That results in more money for the fertilizer companies but does little for your grass.
It only feeds the shoots in the summer. While it may look lush, it is more prone to stress as all the food has gone to the top, not to encourage root growth.
Save your money for the water bill.
Bev Johnson is an Otter Tail County Master Gardener