IF YOU HAVE ST. AUGUSTINE OR ZOYSIA GRASS, RIGHT NOW IS AN OPPORTUNE TIME TO CUT BACK ON YOUR WATERING.
The Fall Equinox is fast approaching on September 23, 2018. On this date the physiological characteristics of grass changes and it stops actively growing. When the turf is not actively growing, it needs much less water than it did in the summer. This is where some homeowners create self inflicted wounds to their grass due to overwatering, especially those with St. Augustine or Zoysia grass.
Right now is a great time to cut back on your watering not only because we’ve gotten so much rain lately but also because St. Augustine and Zoysia are susceptible to the dreaded Rhizoctonia Solani, AKA Brown Patch.
Brown Patch pictured above.
Brown Patch is a fungal disease that thrives in moist cool environments. Once infected, excess water exasperates the issue and it continues to spread. While Brown Patch is not something that will kill the turf, it does set the grass back in the spring when it is trying to come out of dormancy. Lawns that were affected by Brown Patch in the fall will be at least 2 weeks slower to green up in the spring than non affected turf.
Lets get ahead of the curve this fall and try and outsmart this pesky disease!
WHAT SHOULD YOU BE DOING?
1. Cut back watering to once a week per the watering guide. If there has been significant rainfall, turn the system off until 1 week passes with no significant moisture.
2. If you start to notice signs of brown patch in your yard, first call us and next turn your system off for 2 weeks or until further notice.
Watering: It’s a hot topic when it’s hot! Unfortunately, most homeowners have been misinformed when it comes to watering practices. That’s why we are here to simplify things with our watering guide - AKA the soak, cycle, repeat method!
What are the steps to our watering method?
First, let’s determine what type of system you are using. Our watering guide is tailored for sprinkler systems with pop up and rotary heads. If you do not have a sprinkler system you will need to get creative. We suggest investing in a digital controller box which can be found at any home improvement store. If you have a drip irrigation system, consult your drip irrigation installer for proper watering regimens.
Second, let’s analyze how you’re watering. Do you water your lawn all at once and if so, for how long? If you’re only watering using one cycle, then all of the water you deliver may not get absorbed.
Our tough clay soil presents unique challenges when it comes to lawn irrigation. Due to our seemingly nonporous clay soil, the trick is to split up your watering times into multiple cycles, all in the same day. Clay can only soak up so much water until its pores close up and water begins to sheen off. Therefore, after an allotted amount of time (which is anywhere between 3-10 minutes depending on the slope and compaction) runoff occurs and water becomes wasted.
Why is water runoff bad?
Irrigation water that can’t be absorbed into the soil will drain off into the street, down the storm drains or into our lakes, rivers, and drinking water supply. This is bad for many reasons. First, it is a huge waste! There’s no sense in wasting all of that irrigation water if half of it is just going to end up in the storm drains. Plus, water runoff takes a lot of desirable and undesirable things away with it: nutrients your plants need plus toxic pesticides and fertilizers. Even if you are 100% organic in your garden, there is still soil sediment (erosion), pet waste, and other toxins that make their way to your yard to be carried away by the runoff.
When you see it start to runoff, shut it off!
Make yourself a cup of coffee on Saturday morning, stand outside, and start your stopwatch when the sprinklers turn on. Once you notice water running off onto the street or sidewalk, stop your watch and now you have your optimum water time for each zone.
Third, now that you have figured out your optimum cycle time, it’s time to program your cycles on your controller box. Most controller boxes allow for 3 or more start times. The key is to water each zone for a total of 30 minutes. You’ll want to break the cycles up into factors of 30. See sample below for more clarification.
Timing Sample: If your system allows for 3 start times, then you will water each station for 10 minutes, 3 times - breaking for an hour or two in between cycles to allow for deeper penetration. Less watering time at more frequent intervals is recommended if your system allows. In other words, if you can water each station 5 times for 6 minutes, that is better than watering each station 3 times for 10 minutes. Optimum watering window is midnight-10 am.
Be sure to adhere to local watering restrictions and assigned watering days.
Healthy soil that is part of our Soil Building Program is naturally better at absorbing and using water efficiently. When your soil is healthy, well fed and full of organic matter, drainage and moisture retention is improved.
First off, what is Brown Patch disease?
Brown Patch is caused by the fungus, Rhizoctonia solani. You can spot Brown Patch by the circular brown areas that appear in your turf: St. Augustine being the most susceptible.You will notice small to very large circular patches of grass turning a brownish yellow color. The patches will vary in size, but the browned leaf blades will remain upright, pulling out easily from the runner and resemble straw or hay. Recognizing the signs early on is key to reducing the disease over time.
Brown Patch in St. Augustine Lawn
Did you fall victim to this disease last year? If so, what can you expect out of your lawn this spring?
With the cool rainy spell that started in August of last year, we saw an uncanny amount of Brown Patch throughout the metroplex.
If you are one of the many who dealt with this disease, you are probably noticing that those previously infected areas are still looking pretty lifeless compared to the rest of your turf. Don’t fear! These areas will recover but expect a 2-3 week delay in green up.
Although we cannot control the weather, we can control our watering. Excessive moisture and mild temperatures are a trigger for Brown Patch. So, as it continues to stay cool at night and frequently raining - DO NOT WATER! See our watering guide for more detail on this.
Are you due for an irrigation audit?
A well-run system that is checked yearly can help prevent over and underwatering. By making sure your system is functioning properly you’ll notice: healthier plants, less water runoff and flooding, and a savings on your water bill. If you have questions about scheduling your system or its functionality, you should highly consider an irrigation audit.