Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hot and Dry Conditions Prevail

This is the first summer in many years we have hit an extensive hot and dry spell. It is easy to see who has a sprinkler and who doesn't, and even who has a good sprinkler and who doesn't. Yards that haven't received any supplemental water look like this right now:

Extremely dry Midwestern lawn
This spring, and even early summer brought repeated heavy rains encouraging grass to keep all their roots at the surface. If the turfgrass never has the opportunity to establish a deep root bed it tends to stress in the heat much more quickly. Those of you who insist on watering daily even in early spring are finding that you have to water even more to keep up with your spoiled root system.

We have had several customer calls this week about properly functioning sprinkler systems. They were concerned that their irrigation system was not functioning at all because the yard was beginning to show stress. Every one of these callers still had their sprinkler systems on the same settings that were programmed when the system was started in April. April conditions are much different than July conditions, particularly here in the Midwest. When it is extensively hot and dry you need to either add watering days and/or increase your watering times. If you have a water budget feature on your controller this is where it really comes in handy. Increasing the water budget to 150%, a common setting for July and August, will add 50% more run time to your existing times for each zone and is easy to scale back as conditions warrant.

For folks who have let their lawns get extremely dry before even starting their sprinklers we recommend a cycle and soak pattern of watering. Running your sprinkler through two full cycles during the overnight hours leaving a couple hour break in between cycles to allow the water to be absorbed.

Don't you want your lawn to look like this?

Lush, healthy turf grass

A poorly designed or maintained sprinkler will certainly apply water, but it won't do it completely, efficiently or well. The easiest way to have a lush green lawn is to have a well designed, professionally installed sprinkler system.  To add to the ease of owning your system, and make it so you don't have to fret about adjusting for rainy weeks and hot dry weeks, we highly recommend installing a weather based Smart control system. These controllers have become surprisingly more affordable for this year. For those of you who have a had Rain Bird sprinkler system installed in the last five years, Rain Bird has upgrade kits available for their ESP 4 Modular controller. The older your sprinkler controller is, the more you should look into upgrading. Without any effort on your part, this impressive technology will adapt the amount of water your yard receives based on soil type, slope, wind, rain, temperature and evaporation. Smart controllers pay for themselves in water savings in about two seasons, depending on the weather conditions.

Water smart and your lawn will thank you.

Keep it Green!

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